Operation Ricelift

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name:
Operation Ricelift
March 27–28, 1952
Emergency: Floods isolated villagers in northern Japan, depriving them of adequate food supplies.
Organizations: 3d Air Rescue Squadron
Airlifted: Two tons of rice.
Aircraft Used: H–5 (one)

In late March, rapidly thawing snow flooded villages such as Fudaicho and Hiranamisawa at the base of mountains in northern Honshu, Japan. The flooding isolated about 1,400 villagers, cutting off food supplies. Inhabitants of the town of Kuji collected two tons of rice for their neighbors, but lacked the ability to deliver it. Japanese officials requested a U.S. airlift.

The Air Rescue Service responded with Operation Ricelift. Flying an H–5 helicopter, Lt. Robert L. Dunlap of the 3d Air Rescue Squadron delivered the rice from Kuji to the Fudai-cho area in a series of shuttle flights on March 27 and 28. Each flight carried an average of 400 pounds of rice. The airlift helped to sustain the Honshu flood victims until roads reopened for normal food deliveries. For this mercy mission, the prefecture governor expressed profound thanks.

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