RAAF Support for ground troops in Korea

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On this day 65 years ago, No 77 Squadron (77SQN) of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flew in support of Australian ground troops for the first time during the Korean War.

77SQN was ‘on call’ when the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), launched an attack to drive the Chinese from hilltops overlooking the Pakchon-Sinanju Road in the Taeryong River valley.

The Mustangs of 77SQN began by attacking the Chinese positions with rockets, napalm and machine-gun fire, before strafing the enemy troops who fled from their shelters and pits. 

The second-in-command of 3 RAR, Major Ian Ferguson subsequently described the squadron’s support as ‘the closest I have ever seen’, and commented, ‘It was an all Australian show … the boost to morale was amazing when we recognised the planes of 77 Squadron overhead.’

Sergeant Pilot George Hale of 77SQN Sergeant Pilot George Hale of 77SQN after a brush with MiG Fighters over North Korea. Kimpo, South Korea, 1953.
Source: AWM Collection JK0683.

77SQN flew almost 19,000 sorties in Korea, and was awarded the Presidential Citation by the Republic of Korea at the end of the war for service and bravery, returning to RAAF Williamtown in November 1954.