Leper Airlift

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name: Leper Airlift
Location: Okinawa, Japan, and Taiwan
Date: August 1965
Emergency: Lepers in colonies in the Far East needed dental treatment.
Organizations: Fifth Air Force
Airlifted: 25 dental personnel and about two tons of dental equipment and supplies.
Aircraft Used: C–54 (one)

In the 1960s, the Social Welfare Fund of Mainichi Newspapers in Japan sponsored annual dental treatments for lepers in the Far East. In 1965, 13 professors and 12 students from Osaka Dental College gave up their summer vacations to participate in the program.

To transport them from Osaka to the leper colonies, the Fifth Air Force furnished a C–54 aircraft and crew. In August, the Skymaster airlifted the 25 dental personnel and 3,500 pounds of their equipment and supplies to three leper colonies in Japan, Okinawa, and Taiwan. The dentists and students treated over 1,000 patients that month.

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