Historic aircraft from Korean War battle dedicated at AMC Museum

  • Published
  • By Mauricio Campino

A C-119C #352 aircraft, which played a vital role during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, was dedicated on Oct. 1, 2022 at the Air Mobility Command Museum adjacent to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

The C-119 model entered service in 1950, the same year the Korean War began, and quickly became an important part of several operations during the conflict. The aircraft was part of the 314th Troop Carrier Group out of Smyrna Air Force Base, Tennessee, which ferried troops, equipment and supplies from U.S. bases in Japan. 

As the conflict continued, the 314th TCG participated in numerous operations inserting thousands of U.S. Army Airborne paratroopers into battle and delivering much-needed supplies to American troops and their allies. In November of that same year, Chinese troops destroyed a bridge near Funchilin Pass, trapping thousands of Marines and Soldiers. Eight C-119 aircraft, including #352, delivered M2 Treadway bridge sections which ground forces used to reassemble the bridge and evacuate the area, potentially saving thousands of lives. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir had more survivors as a result of the actions of the 314th TCG. 

“What the men flying this aircraft did saved a lot of lives,” said John Taylor, AMC Museum director. “The dedication ceremony bonds the spirit and presence of this aircraft with the men who shared its history and who are the true heroes.” 

Following the war, #352 received upgrades and became a C model. It was used by the Air Force Reserve for several years, and it was eventually sold to a private company which used it to fight forest fires.  

The process of acquiring, transporting and dedicating the C-119C #352 spanned several years. While serving as the historian for the 314th Airlift Wing, Mark Wilderman discovered the aircraft was sitting at Edwards Air Force Base, California, destined for the scrapyard. He alerted the National Museum of the Air Force and AMC which were able to secure funding for the disassembly and transportation to the AMC Museum. The first sections arrived at the museum in 2016.

Since arriving at the museum, a group of staff and volunteers has worked over 2000 man hours to reassemble and restore the C-119C to prepare it for the dedication ceremony. The exterior of the aircraft now looks as it did when it first entered service in 1950. The museum staff has plans to continue restoring the cabin and cockpit to allow tours of the interior in the future. 

“Our team of museum professionals are proud to present and dedicate this aircraft to the Chosin Few,” said Taylor. “It represents the history of a time passed but not forgotten and it will tell their story of courage and heroism for generations to come.”.