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OSS/SACO Silver Star Air Corps Operative


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Hey everyone, welcome back to our lovely forums!

      Thought I would start off our return with an incredible piece belonging to a friend of mine who gave me permission to share due to the sheer rarity of the item. I did not manage to get the name of the veteran, but will try to, and was told he was a member of the OSS in the first few years of the war before being attached as a radio and weather radar operator for the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO). As you may recall, SACO set up several secret bases throughout the Chinese mainland to coordinate resistance and bombing operations. This particular gentleman was one of the specialists for the air corps detachment of the unit. According to my friend, the vet discussed at length how he was sent in solo by parachute into extremely isolated parts of China where he was picked up by Chinese rebels and commandos who pretty much never spoke English. In these operations he would follow them to either a SACO stronghold or to the location of a potential radar sight for the American bomber command. It was at these places that he maintained and established radar outposts and weather stations which could predict and guide the bombers in southern China/India in the wildly varied and ever-changing Chinese weather. Many of these missions were undertaken alone but in others he worked with marines and sailors also attached to the special force. When asked, the vet said he only got the Silver Star "for jumping out of airplanes" but clearly from the context I am going to say it was a little more than that. He was apparently a very nice guy and acknowledged how basically no one ever heard or remembers their service, so he was glad to give it to my buddy who has used it in several public display to continue their legacy.

       The uniform itself is truly spectacular and one-of-a-kind. It features a bullion CBI patch on the left sleeve (where he served with the OSS before and after SACO) as well as a beautifully rendered silk version of the SACO patch on the right. It looks like he earned his jump wings as well as pilot wings during OSS time which qualified him for the unique job he was given. We both thought this uniform was too unique and the service too special to not share as a reference for the forums on here. I have seen maybe one or two SACO uniforms before, and only one (a Navy jumper also posted on this site) had the patch attached. A magnificent piece with a lot of forgotten history from an incredibly brave and resourceful veteran.

Best,

Alex

 

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GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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This is a very interesting uniform as there couldn’t have been many USAAC pilots attached as a radio and/or radar operator with SACO.  My question would be why utilize a qualified pilot as a radio and/or radar operator as I thought enlisted specialist did this sort of job during the war.  However the SACO shoulder patch does look like a genuine silk embroidered theater made patch.  My understanding of SACO was that initially it was an all US Navy outfit and Marines were brought in later as besides monitoring the weather and positioning coast watchers up and down the coast of China they were training and equipping Chinese Nationalist troops.   If you read the book written by the person (Commander Milton E. Miles) who sort of formed SACO they were always having supply issues as the USAAC never seemed to have much room for their supplies on their planes.  Commander Miles was so successful in China because of his friendship with the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police whom Army General Stillwell did not trust as some looked upon this organization as a Chinese Gestapo.  As I recall General Stillwell flat out told Commander Miles that he wouldn’t hinder his efforts in China but wouldn’t help him either.  This could explain the lack of supplies and personnel getting through to SACO during the war.  During this same time period the OSS was very successful in Burma and wanted to do things in China however they did not have the trust of the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police.  Without their help you couldn’t move from one area of China to another clandestinely as they had a very effective spy network in place.  So the OSS sort of absorbed SACO so they could operate in China.  However I read where the OSS did things there weren’t supposed to do such as arming and training the Chinese Communist which infuriated Commander Miles as even though the OSS told him he was in charge they did things behind his back without telling him what they were doing.  This of course jeopardized his position with the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police as the communists were their sworn enemies.   I am not saying this uniform was put together but it just doesn’t seem right. 

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9 hours ago, Tonomachi said:

This is a very interesting uniform as there couldn’t have been many USAAC pilots attached as a radio and/or radar operator with SACO.  My question would be why utilize a qualified pilot as a radio and/or radar operator as I thought enlisted specialist did this sort of job during the war.  However the SACO shoulder patch does look like a genuine silk embroidered theater made patch.  My understanding of SACO was that initially it was an all US Navy outfit and Marines were brought in later as besides monitoring the weather and positioning coast watchers up and down the coast of China they were training and equipping Chinese Nationalist troops.   If you read the book written by the person (Commander Milton E. Miles) who sort of formed SACO they were always having supply issues as the USAAC never seemed to have much room for their supplies on their planes.  Commander Miles was so successful in China because of his friendship with the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police whom Army General Stillwell did not trust as some looked upon this organization as a Chinese Gestapo.  As I recall General Stillwell flat out told Commander Miles that he wouldn’t hinder his efforts in China but wouldn’t help him either.  This could explain the lack of supplies and personnel getting through to SACO during the war.  During this same time period the OSS was very successful in Burma and wanted to do things in China however they did not have the trust of the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police.  Without their help you couldn’t move from one area of China to another clandestinely as they had a very effective spy network in place.  So the OSS sort of absorbed SACO so they could operate in China.  However I read where the OSS did things there weren’t supposed to do such as arming and training the Chinese Communist which infuriated Commander Miles as even though the OSS told him he was in charge they did things behind his back without telling him what they were doing.  This of course jeopardized his position with the head of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police as the communists were their sworn enemies.   I am not saying this uniform was put together but it just doesn’t seem right. 

I was pretty shocked to see the set up as well, but I will say it is legit and was given to him from the veteran years ago when the vet saw a WWII display he set up at a gun show and asked if he would have been interested in his service stuff as well. I have looked into SACO in a few various facets but I have found mention of Army Air Corps guys getting involved in the weather/radar sort of operations and will have to find those sources again. From what I understand the veteran earned his pilot wings prior to joining the OSS and spent his first years with them where he earned his para wings. The skills involved led to his appointment and mission selection. From how the veteran talked about it, and from how you describe, I think its possible his missions were part of those OSS changes that Miles did not like very much. He was working primarily to help out with the bombing operations of I believe the 14th Air Force, but generally any of the missions over the Chinese mainland. He only recalled seeing the sailors and marines to a minimal extent and for the most part carried on his missions solo. I will have to see what else he might remember, but the veteran was pretty humble and went into mainly his missions rather than the overlying structure behind them. It's probably an entirely unique uniform and one I doubt we will see elsewhere. 

GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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It should be easy to validate the award of the Silver Star from just his name.  I have multiple resources I can check. 

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Alright, so got to talk to my buddy again today. Apparently the veteran was a bit of a weird dude and wouldn't tell him his full name, but the engraved silver star was found in the pocket with the name "Roberts" and the date 10/3/44 on it. He tried to return it as he doesnt think the vet realized it was in there but he had refused to tell him his full name. I am not sure if its traceable but maybe the date would help on top of the name and unique circumstances of the citation. 

 

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GEN. David R. Atchinson- MO State Guard              ACW

PVT. John H. Drury- Co. A, 27th Ky IR                      ACW               Died of Typhoid

PVT. Henry E. Thomas- Co. I, 17th Ky IR                  ACW

PVT. Joseph E. Drury- Co. E, 356th IR, 89th ID       WWI                WIA

SGT. Edward P. Drury- 51st QM Training Co.           WWII

PFC. Delmer C. Koonter- Co. I, 142nd IR, 36th ID    WWII              WIA

SC3c Michael C. Drury- LCS (L) (3) 70                     WWII

SGT. Steven D. Koonter- 5th Cav, 1st Cav Div         Vietnam

SGT. John M. Drury- 227th AVN Bn. 1st Cav Div     Vietnam

 

Contact me with items from the 36th Infantry Division or any IDd uniforms of European Theater Infantry Divisions

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Thanks for the additional information.  I found something like 33 people who served with the OSS that has the last name of Roberts.  However I found only one Roberts who served in Burma with OSS Detachment 101 during WW2.  He was Captain Carl E. Roberts.  I don't have access to any of the Silver Star recipient lists but maybe someone else could look up this name.  

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I checked both the AAF Award Cards and The SS GO lists published by Al Gleim and count not find a Carl Roberts or another Roberts I thought might be an easy match.  The lists are not 100% complete however.

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


donation2007.gifdonation2008.gifdonation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gif

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gif
donation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2020.gif

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