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Hawaiian 299th Inf Commission 1939 Liaison Pilot


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#1 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 06:36 PM

Couldn't make the long haul to the SOS in Louisville today, but I did go to the Hawaii collectors show in Honolulu.  After trolling through the usual medals, purple hearts, TR wound badges, etc, I stopped to check out the fully restored WWII Harley Davidson's and other vehicles.

 

Didn't see anything I had to have as I wandered around until.......

 

BINGO

 

Infantry 2nd Lieutenants commission to the National Guard of the United States and the Territory of Hawaii (299th Infantry) from the Territorial Governor dated July 1939

Attached Images

  • 1939 Commission 003.jpg
  • 1939 Commission 004.jpg


#2 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 06:39 PM

Took a while to pin his biography down until I came across an article he wrote for the Army Aviation Digest in March 1957

 

THE GREY HAIR DEPARTMENT

 

Nice to have a photo to go with the biography too.  Note the Senior Army Aviator wings, circa 1957

Attached Images

  • LT COL CHARLES ERNEST 1957 001.jpg
  • LT COL CHARLES ERNEST 1957 002.jpg
  • LT COL CHARLES ERNEST 1957 003.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 26 February 2020 - 08:09 PM.


#3 mikie

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 06:48 PM

Wow! A busy guy for sure. Great pickup.

Edited by mikie, 23 February 2020 - 06:48 PM.


#4 kyhistorian01

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 08:30 PM

Glad you found something for your collection my friend. Nice pickup!

 

Robert



#5 aznation

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 09:30 PM

That's a great acquisition, especially with the officer's background.  Congrats!



#6 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 01:57 PM

After searching multiple databases and trying to make sense of the above biography, I came to realize that the references to Charles Ernest's duty with "XXIX Corps" were dead wrong, he served with Tenth Army, XXIV Corps Artillery in Leyte, Okinawa and then Korea during 1944-1945.

 

.....and now for an incredible story I stumbled across after digging deeper and deeper - from a Soviet Veteran who served in Korea in 1945

 

Let me take you to another note on the Korean bill that was written by a person with a great sense of humor,

 

"The American who by mistake came to Yang Yang North of 38° but now is sorry to return to his own army. Charles Ernest, Major U.S.A."

 

EXTRACTS FROM "GOOD LUCK CAPTAIN!" 

 

Here is the story unveiled by a Korean paper bill, signed by four American officers on November 3, 1945. (What happened on November 2-3, 1945, was told by late Vladimir Epstein, a Soviet Army officer who served in Korea at that time. He was then commander of a Soviet Infantry regiment patrolling the area.)
 
It was a gloomy morning of November 2, 1945, at the 38th Parallel just north of the Korean region of Yang Yang. Commander Vladimir Epstein heard the rattle of an airplane engine. A small airplane was circling a clearing in the woods, looking for a landing. The plane was not Soviet, and Vladimir Epstein ordered the soldiers to quickly surround the area. When the plane landed and four Americans stepped out of it, the whole incident became a matter of a friendly visit! Commander Epstein invited the Americans to follow him.
 
He led the guests to a small house in a peach orchard. Soviet soldiers quickly laid the table. The Allies raised their glasses to the long-awaited Victory and the long-lasting friendship between the two great nations. The next morning the Americans toured the barracks of the Soviet soldiers. Neatly made bunk beds and stacks of shiny rifles produced a favorable impression on the guests. After lunch they all went to see the shooting exercises at the range.
 
Standing by the airplane just before their departure, Americans gave Epstein something that he would keep for the rest of his days: two pieces of paper currency which happened to be an American paper dollar stamped "Hawaii" and a Korean bill with a traditional floral design on one side and a portrait of a historical figure on the other. On it, all the Americans wrote down their warm wishes and signed their names.  Commander Epstein, in his turn, gave the Americans Russian 5-ruble bills that had a picture so appropriate for the occasion: a pilot standing next to his war-time airplane. Someone from Epstein’s group came up with more Soviet currency which was signed by those present and given to the Americans.
 
The plane with the American friends slowly steered around the opening to get more room for take-off; a minute later it was airborne. While still visible, it rocked side to side, as if waving good-bye and disappeared in the direction of Seoul.
 
Charles Ernest
 
To correctly read this name off the banknote was probably the least of a problem. To find a veteran with such a common name proved to be a major task. There were just a couple things I knew for certain about this man: Charles Ernest was a Major as of November 3, 1945, and at that moment he was in Korea. Using the information off Philippe Durette’s Purple Heart medal, I assumed that all the men may have belonged to the same military unit, that is: 7th Division, 10th Army, XXIV Corp. They may have gone together through the battle for the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) in the Pacific.
 
The result of the White Pages search was overwhelming. After talking on the phone to a couple of dozen namesakes of Charles Ernest and not finding a trace of the one I needed, I gave up: sifting through hundreds of names without any reference to people’s age or veteran status was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.
 
The Library of Congress website looked promising: its Veterans History Project provided information on military personnel for the period of World War II. In this database, three people had the combination of "Charles" and "Ernest" in their names. One of them took my breath away: he served in the same 7th Division, 10th Army in (among other places) Japan, Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands). However, his highest rank by the time of his discharge from the Army was Private First Class. Wrong person.
 
The Census of 1930 shows a Charles Ernest born in 1920 in South Carolina. A different snapshot states that Charles Ernest was missing in action in 1945 in Germany. Is it the same person?
 
The Second World War Memorial downtown Washington, D.C. honors millions of Americans who served in the Armed Forces, hundreds of thousands of those who died, and all those who supported the war efforts back at home. Here, among the sixty-one entries with the last name Ernest, two veterans also shared the first name, Charles. The information in the Memorial Registry, scant as it is, states that one of them "flew 50 missions out of Southern Italy over enemy territory" while the other "flew reconnaissance missions and served as a pilot instructor." The person I was looking for could be either of them.
 
A week spent in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, cleared a lot of uncertainties and the kaleidoscope of information started to look like pieces from the same puzzle.
 
Charles Ernest was born on August 10, 1907 in Columbus, Ohio. During the Second World War he was a Field Artillery pilot, flying air observation post aircraft for the field artillery. In the Southwest and Central Pacific Area (Okinawa) in 1945 artillery air officers were instrumental in bringing up a few important innovations to air observation posts.
 
The process and its impressive results are described by Dr. Edgar F. Raines, Jr. in his book Eyes of Artillery. The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation in World War II. The artillery fire and its accuracy were observed and directed by artillery air pilots who were flying reconnaissance planes over the battle field. Before the troops gained any shore area to build landing strips, the planes had to be based at sea. The large air carriers could not approach the shores close enough.
 
Dr. Raines writes, "At the very opening of the ground campaign, Tenth Army introduced a major innovation in air-observation-post operations, at least as far as the U.S. Army was concerned. Selected pilots used a Brodie device to provide observed fire during the landings." A Brodie device was a complex combination of wires, cables, poles, a hook, a trolley, and a trapeze.Originally, for practice purposes, it was built on land. It was meant to send the planes into the air and also to catch those at the end of a mission without having the wheels touch the ground or the deck of an aircraft carrier. Later the Brodie device was mounted on a landing ship tank LST-776, which allowed for a relatively smaller floating vessel to come closer to the shore and "permitted Field Artillery planes to observe fire continuously during a landing. It eliminated the dependence on aircraft carriers to transport light aircraft to the landing area […]."
 
Brodie Device Pioneer Pilot
 
Charles Ernest brought his expertise, skills, and personal courage into the picture. Dr. Raines continues, "The XXIV Corps artillery air officer, Major Charles Ernest, had learned to fly off a land-based Brodie rig […]. He began training selected pilots in its use. […] Ernest and most of his men received the intense training needed to operate such complex gear. When XXIV Corps landed in Okinawa on April 1 1945, the Brodie device and the pilots using it functioned almost flawlessly, making twenty-five takeoffs and landings until engineers could prepare strips ashore."
 
Charles Ernest operated small reconnaissance planes, probably L-4, also known as Piper Cubs or Grasshoppers. It may have been one of those planes that he and his army fellows flew on November 2, 1945 to land on a forest clearing just north of the 38th Parallel.
 
After the Second World War, Ernest was stationed in Camp Polk, Louisiana. In July 1952, while at Camp Polk, 45-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ernest received orders assigning him to the Far East again, to Korea. This extraordinary man’s passion was flying. The National Archives hold several photos of Charles Ernest. They are all about flying or teaching others to fly. There, among other duties, he served once again as a pilot instructor, teaching Korean students of the Army Aviation School.
 
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ernest passed away on January 15, 1965 at the age of 57 and was buried with military honors at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA.
 

 

Attached Images

  • MAJ CHARLES ERNEST 1952 001.jpg
  • Hawaii Bills 001.jpg
  • Korean Bills 001.jpg
  • Vladmir Epstein 001.jpg
  • Vladmir Epstein 002.jpg
  • Brodie Device on LST 001.jpg


#7 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 02:39 PM

Full Reference on the Brodie Device - He trained with it in Hawaii (while with the Hawaiian Artillery Command) and did use it in Leyte also.  His official report is cited in the note 55 below.

 

Eyes of Artillery: The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation in World War II
By Edgar F. Raines

 

Note the Senior Army Aviator Wings and Artillery collar brass on the Major, circa early 1952 before his second deployment to Korea

Attached Images

  • Eyes of Artillery Edgar F Raines 001.jpg
  • MAJ CHARLES ERNEST 1952 001.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 26 February 2020 - 08:11 PM.


#8 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 04:44 PM

He was also a Charter Member of the ARMY AVIATION ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, founded in 1957 when he was the Helicopter CO at Fort Benning, GA



#9 gwb123

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 08:12 AM

Wow.  Nice find, and quite the career. 

 

The commission is quite unique featuring the territorial seal of Hawaii.   

 

Is the family still in Hawaii?



#10 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 10:03 AM

Thats a cool document! I have never seen one of those.

 

Kurt



#11 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 03:23 PM

Wow.  Nice find, and quite the career. 

 

The commission is quite unique featuring the territorial seal of Hawaii.   

 

Is the family still in Hawaii?

 

Gil,

 

Undetermined as of yet  Being that the document is from 1939, it may have been mislaid in the war years or just after and bounced around.  I'm trying to trace his Hawaii/Maui roots through the University of Hawaii archives of the 1930's.

 

It was in a pile of vinyl record albums and only the top few inches were visible when I spotted it.  I saw the Federal Eagle and Territorial Seal I knew exactly what it was.  The picker didn't have any leads on from whence it came.

 

Thats a cool document! I have never seen one of those.

 

Kurt

 

Kurt,

 

First one I've seen in the open market, but I've seen others in the State Archives.  I'll be tracing this document with the Hawaii State Archives and hopefully uncovering his National Guard records.  He may have been UH ROTC or prior enlisted service considering that he was almost 32 when the Commission was signed.  He may also have had previous flight experience to be able to change from Infantry to the first Liaison flight school in Kansas and then Fort Sill.  Most of these trainee pilots were pulled from the Air Corps or civilian enlisted pilots.  Very few were in the National Guard.

 

Overall an expanding research project.  I've already confirmed that he was the Battalion Adjutant in the 299th at Wailuku, Maui, and then as a 1st LT (adjutant) with the 2nd Battalion in Hilo, Hawaii 1940/1941 before they were Federalized.  I've yet to dig up his Artillery connection which could be the prior service connection.

Attached Images

  • 1939 Commission 008.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 26 February 2020 - 07:44 PM.
typo


#12 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 06:51 PM

Thanks to aznation for a mountain of newspaper clippings, some Hawaii inter-war promotion announcements and transfers, plus some family info.

 

The pieces are coming together nicely.

 

Also a big Mahalo to Wailuna for prodding find a grave to photograph his headstone at Fort Rosecrans,  photo below forwarded by aznation.

Attached Images

  • Charles Ernest Fort Rosecrans 001a.jpg


#13 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 06:54 PM

Lt Col Charles Ernest (died in Las Vegas, Nevada but originally from Ohio)

 

WWII (Hawaii - Pearl Harbor Survivor - Leyte - Okinawa - Korea in WWII), Korean War 1952-1953 (I Corps, then with KMAG)

 

Bronze Star w/OLC, Air Medal w/OLC(s?)

Attached Images

  • Charles Ernest Fort Rosecrans 002a.jpg


#14 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 07:22 PM

.....and here is the real surprise.  I was guessing due to his age and the clues to his travels in the 1920's and 1930's that he was an inter-war military veteran.

 

Well, I was right but this is why I had trouble finding any trail of him in the interwar enlisted US Army records

 

He was a SAILOR on the Battlehiip Pennsylvania for seven years and on Navy cruisers during the Banana wars in Panama and Central America!  Now there's a twist, Navy, Hawaii National Guard (with the pre-war soon to become 100th Battalion and 442nd RCT) at Schofield Barracks on December 7th, 1941 with the Hawaiian Division, then a pioneer Army Artillery Liaison pilot (first to land on Okinawa) launching from Brodie rigs in the Philippines and Okinawa, Korea - Korea again.......Army aviation helicopter pioneer, then retired work with Sikorsky developing choppers in the run up to Vietnam.

 

It now makes perfect sense as to why a 1st Lieutenant with a Hawaii Territorial commission would be selected to train as a Grasshopper pilot and train a Brodie outfit working with the Navy on an LST at Leyte and Okinawa - The man was a Sailor before he was an Aviator.

 

Here's his ship, the LST-776 and the Brodie system training off of Mississippi

 

 

Now this man was an adventurer and it's a shame that he died at 57.  The byline caption in his Army Aviation articles was FROM THE GREY HAIR DEPARTMENT, (obviously a term of respect) in which he detailed how rookie pilots were smashing up liaison aircraft and helicopters (including how much they cost the government), and how to avoid these accidents.

 

Thanks again to aznation for his obituary, (with some errors I've already discovered), with his foreign travel and Naval service noted plus a reference to his being 'captured' by the Soviets in Korea, 1945 (see my above posts for the link about this incident - GOOD LUCK CAPTAIN!).

Attached Images

  • Charles Ernest Obituary 005.jpg
  • Charles Ernest Obituary 004.jpg
  • Charles Ernest Obituary 003.jpg
  • Charles Ernest Obituary 002.jpg
  • Charles Ernest Obituary 001.jpg
  • Charles Ernest Obituary 006.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 26 February 2020 - 07:30 PM.


#15 Wharfmaster

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 09:16 AM

Kamaha'o  !

 

 

 

Wharf



#16 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 03:21 PM

This just keeps getting more and more interesting.......

 

I still have not located his specific US Naval records but he was also in the Merchant Marine and the license applications had his Naval service noted.

 

He served as a Quartermaster in the US Navy for 7 years and 9 months and then as a merchant Quartermaster on a Tanker.  After this he was a deckhand on two motor yachts and an Engineer on another yacht, ending up in Los Angeles in 1932 when he applied for a masters license.

 

There may be more Merchant service in the years between 1932 and 1938.

 

He next shows up in Hawaii as a Private in the 299th Infantry, Hawaii National Guard (Navy, Merchant and then Army enlisted service confirmed as I suspected) from February 1938 to June 30, 1939.  The next day his commission as a 2nd LT was issued on July 1st, 1939, the document which started this search. 

 

His first assignment, Platoon leader with the Regiment in Maui, later with Company E, 299th Infantry at Papaikou, Hawaii near Hilo (The Big Island), Then 2nd Battalion Adjutant as a 1st Lt, Federalized into the AUS, sent to Fort Benning for the Infantry Officers Course in 1941 and then back to the Hawaiian Department, possibly in the Signals section before the Pearl Harbor attack.    (more to come eventually on his National Guard service in Hawaii with the future 100th/442nd)

Attached Images

  • 1939 Commission 010.jpg
  • 1941 10 25 001.jpg
  • 1941 10 25 002.jpg
  • 1941 11 01 001.jpg
  • 1941 11 01 002.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 27 February 2020 - 03:27 PM.


#17 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 03:20 PM

Major Charles Ernest, Field Artillery Liaison Pilot - Assigned to the US Second Army

 

After his WWII service in the Pacific theater at Leyte, Okinawa & Korea, Major Ernest was posted to Fort Sill, OK.  in October 1947 Ernest was reassigned to the staff of the Second US Army at Fort Meade.  There he came under the command of Maj Gen James Van Fleet as his air advisor.  In 1948, they were dispatched by President Truman to relieve their US counterparts who were advising the Royal Greek government and Hellenic Army in the renewed Greek Civil War.

 

But first, some background on the Aviation assets of the Royal Hellenic Air Force in 1946-1949

 

The Continuation of the Greek Civil War 1949-1949
 
In 1946, the same year the Greek Civil War started, Greek manned RAF squadrons were converted into the Royal Hellenic Air Force operating a variety of plane types, mainly British.
 
The Royal Hellenic Air Force also had been playing an increasing role in combat operations. Having begun as a fledgling force of a few leftover Spitfires, it had added transport planes and Navy Helldivers before the final offensives of summer 1949. These platforms allowed the RHAF to air resupply remote units and conduct close air support, medical evacuation, interdiction, and observation. In contrast, the DA had none of these capabilities, which put it at an even greater disadvantage.
 
Seven Stinson Sentinels were received by the Air Force in 1946, without any spare parts or operation manuals. Of them 3 were L-5 type, 2 were L-5B type, which could be used as medical transport, and 2 were L-5C type with K-20 camera slot in the fuselage. It was a light 2-seater airplane used for army cooperation purposes, reconnaissance and liaison duties.
 
Helenic Stinson L-5 Sentinel
Role: Reconnaissance / Liaison
Dimensions: Wing span 10.36 m, Length 7.34 m, Height 2.41m
Engine: 1 x Lycoming O-435-1 (190 hp)
Crew: 2
Number in service: 7
Country of production: USA
Years in service: 1946– late 50’s
 
During the first two years the government used the Air Force for reconnaissance and air supply missions to isolated areas. With artillery in short supply the Air Force was also used as "flying artillery" but the pilots had difficulty locating an enemy hidden and moving only by night. The equipment was not suited for counter-insurgency operations and cooperation with the Army was faulty.
 
North American T-6 Texan and Harvard: Large numbers of these useful aircraft were operated by the RHAF during the civil war. Most were AT-6 versions from the United States, although a number of the Harvard model from the RAF were acquired as well. They were useful as liaison, observation, and light strike aircraft and were a critical part of the effectiveness of other Greek strike aircraft during the operations in 1948.
 
The Royal Hellenic Air Force employed three squadrons of British and American supplied T-6D and G Texans for close air support, observation, and artillery spotting duties during the Greek Civil War, providing extensive support to the Greek army during the Battle of Grammos. Communist guerrillas called these aircraft “O Galatas” (“The Milkman”), because they were flying very early in the morning. After the “Milkmen”, the guerrillas waited for the armed Spitfires.
 
In 1948 the RHAF was upgraded with US assistance. At the same time the communists decided to abandon guerrilla tactics and try to hold ground like a conventional regular army. The introduction of the Curtiss Helldiver dive bomber armed with napalm bombs allowed the RHAF to attack the communist troops and made possible victory in 1949.
 
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver: Forty eight planes were acquired by the RHAF in spring 1949 from the United States Navy. Forty two dive bombers were used in operations and they proved to be the best strike aircraft of the RHAF and played an important role in the final stages of the civil war.
 
August 1949 marked the final series of operations against the guerrilla forces, and again the RHAF played a large role in supporting government forces. In particular, during the final portion of the month, No. 336 Sqn. began employing its newly acquired Curtiss SB2C Helldiver aircraft, of which 40 had been acquired from the United States Navy. This operation resulted in the final destruction of organized military resistance and resulted in a final ceasefire being signed. During August 826 sorties had been flown dropping 288 tons of bombs and firing 1935 rockets. Napalm was used again, with 114 such strikes being made.
 
Photos: RHAF L-5, SB2C's being flown off of the USS SICILY to the RHAF, RHAF Squadron 1949

Attached Images

  • Helenic stinson_L-5.jpg
  • Curtiss_SB2C-5_Helldiver_aboard_USS_Sicily_(CVE-118)_off_Piraeus,_Greece,_in_August_1949.jpg
  • Curtiss SB2C Squadron Hellenic Air Force.jpg

Edited by Salvage Sailor, 29 February 2020 - 05:46 PM.
typo


#18 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 04:02 PM

JUSMAPG Greece - The Second Phase of the Greek Civil War 1948-1949 - Enter James Van Fleet
 
James Van Fleet, newly promoted to Lieutenant General, assumed command of JUSMAPG on 24 February 1948.
 
General Van Fleet was a member of the famed West Point class of 1915, which also included Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. His career was marked by his notable efforts to turn around underperforming commands in Europe during The Second World War at the division and corps level. By war’s end, Van Fleet had distinguished himself as an aggressive commander who was adept at taking over delicate situations marked by forced leadership changes and immediately improving morale and combat effectiveness.
 
Due to several military and political set backs in 1946 and 1947, the Greek government and military had lost faith in the State Department and US advisory staff prompting Secretary Marshall and President Truman to make a sweeping change in the US presence.
 
In 1948, General Van Fleet was sent to Greece, to aid the Greek government in its battle during the Greek Civil War. The Greek Civil War was essentially an attempted power grab by the communists to take over Greece from its non-communist government and civilians. General Van Fleet supervised 250 United States military advisors and administered $ 250 million in aid to the Greek government.  Among these newly dispatched advisors was Major Charles Ernest, Aviation Advisor to JUSMAPG Greece.
 

 

 

Attached Images

  • James Van Fleet Korea 1952 001.jpg


#19 Salvage Sailor

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 04:06 PM

Major Charles Ernest - JUSMAPG Greece Aviation Advisor - Greek Civil War 1948-1949

 

In 1948 Major Ernest was assigned to the American Mission to Greece (JUSMAG GREECE) as the Aviation Advisor to the Greek Army.  He organized the first Army Aviation unit for the Greek National Army, organized the first Greek Aviation School at Athens, and took command of the first Air Observation Post Squadron (Greek) in the 1949 Vitsi Grammos campaign (Operation Pyrsos or “Torch” in English) under Lt. General James Van Fleet.
 
The GNA, with JUSMAPG planning and advisory support, prepared Operation Torch to clear the guerrilla strongholds of Grammos and Vitsi in northern Greece that it failed to eradicate in 1948. The GNA arrayed four divisions numbering approximately 50,000 troops possessing close air support and two mountain artillery batteries against approximately 7,750 communist troops.
 
Operation Pyrsos (Greek: Επιχείρηση «Πυρσός», "Torch") was the final campaign launched by the National Army of the internationally recognized Greek government against the communist forces during the Greek Civil War. After the success of the preceding Operation Pyravlos, communist forces in central Greece had been defeated and only the mountain strongholds of Grammos and Vitsi in northwestern Greece remained under their control. Yugoslavian assistance to the communists had come to an end in February 1949 amid the Tito–Stalin split. The National Army launched a diversionary attack on Grammos and their main force at Vitsi. Five days of fighting cost the National Army 256 casualties. 1,182 communists were killed in action and over 1,000 wounded were evacuated across the Albanian border. On August 25, following a massive attack by the National Army with aircraft and artillery, the Albanian government of Enver Hoxha cut off its assistance to the Greek communist forces and disarmed the Greek communists on its territory. The operation ended at 10 am on August 30. The Greek communists formally surrendered in mid-October, ending the Greek Civil War.



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