How the Vietnam War transformed combat air rescue

Huge advances in helicopter technology saved countless lives 

In the early years of aviation, air rescue tactics were rudimentary at best. Throughout World War II, the United States in particular had made it their mission to ensure that ditching in the sea did not have to be the death sentence it once had been. Prior to this period, there had simply been no need to develop search and rescue missions. In 1944, the first combat air rescue by helicopter took place in Northern Burma. The helicopter, a YR-4, and its crew had rescued three men after their aircraft had gone down behind enemy lines. After this, the sophistication of air rescue would only improve and one of the main reasons for this would be the beginning of the Vietnam War. 


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