Operation Salud

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name: Operation Salud (Honduran Flood)
Location: Republic of Honduras
Date: September 29–October 7, 1954
Emergency: Heavy rain from Hurricane Gilda flooded the Sula Valley of Honduras.
Organizations: 26th Air Rescue Squadron and other units of the Caribbean Air Command
Airlifted: 50 tons of food, medicine, rafts, and water purification equipment.
Aircraft Used: C–47 (10), H–19 (2), and SA–16 (1)

Heavy rain from Hurricane Gilda drenched northwestern Honduras at the end of September. The Chamelecon and Ulua Rivers inundated 680 square miles of the Sula Valley. The high water destroyed thousands of acres of banana plantations and left 3,000 people homeless. When the rivers crested on September 27, President Dr. Juan Manuel Galvez of Honduras took charge of relief operations. He appealed for aid to the U.S. ambassador, Whiting Willauer, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and President Eisenhower assigned U.S. military relief operations to the Caribbean Command.

On September 29, a Caribbean Command survey team arrived at San Pedro Sula in the stricken area of Honduras with an SA–16 amphibious plane from Albrook AFB in the Panama Canal Zone. The Caribbean Air Command, which was the Air Force component of the Caribbean Command, began sending C–47 aircraft laden with food rations, medical supplies, emergency rafts, and water purification equipment from Albrook to Honduras on September 30. That same day, U.S. military personnel set up emergency communications equipment at San Pedro Sula.

On October 2, a joint task force under Col. W. C. Morse, an Air Force member of the Caribbean Command, took charge of relief operations in Honduras, coordinating Army, Air Force, and Navy missions with Honduran government officials. On October 3, the task force designated the activities Operation Salud. Commander of the Caribbean Command, Maj. Gen. R. C. Hood, arrived in San Pedro Sula on October 4 to review relief efforts firsthand.

Between September 30 and October 7, while Army and Navy boats and helicopters evacuated flood victims and transported medical, engineering, and communications personnel and supplies within Honduras, 10 Caribbean Air Command C–47 aircraft moved food, medicine, and other emergency cargo from the Panama Canal Zone to Honduras. Air Force planes airlifted almost 50 tons of relief supplies, mostly food, to Honduran flood victims.

On October 9, Air Force personnel returned from San Pedro Sula to Albrook AFB. Further U.S. military relief operations in Honduras that month were handled by Navy personnel.

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