The following is an excerpt from the 23 June 1952 Helena newsletter. DJB

U. S. S. HELENA (CA-75)


Navy Press - Aboard the U.S.S. HELENA in Korean waters, June 23 daring action and prompt sea air rescue on part of Helicopter from U.S.S. HELENA are credited with saving the life of a Navy pilot shot down over Tanchon in far Northern Korea today. The helicopter piloted by Lt. James C. Wilkins of Columbia, Louisiana with Chief Aviation Machinist O. H. Grubbs of Marlington, West Virginia assisting pulled the downed pilot to safety from a perilous position half a mile from shore within close range of enemy anti aircraft gun positions. A protective cover of three Corsair fighters from the U.S.S. Boxer straffed the gun positions repeatedly. When word first was received that the plane was down the HELENA was forty five miles away. While the cruiser sped to the scene under full boiler power the Helicopter flew ahead through fog to complete the rescue just thirty five minutes after the plane crashed. The downed pilot LCDR Ward S. Miller of 718 Orchard Street Santa Rosa, California is Commanding Officer of a fighter group aboard the Carrier U. S. S. BOXER. The flight leader of the flight making the first run on the target, Miller had just dropped a large bomb which he said quote: “it looked right on target” unquote” when the plane was struck by anti aircraft bursts which knocked the plane upside down and tore a three foot hole in the wing and destroyed engine controls. By skillful maneuvering he righted the plane and tried to make it to the sea with the throttle jammed wide open and losing altitude rapidly. He pancaked the plane in the water with the speedometer showing 200 knots. He received minor burns and shrapnel wounds but enjoyed satisfaction watching from his rubber boat while his own fighter group blasted nearby enemy gun positions to cover his subsequent rescue by helicopter.

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Navy Press - aboard the U.S.S. HELENA off the East Coast of Korea June 24, for the second time within 24 hours a downed pilot was snatched from under enemy gun positions close off shore of Northeastern Korea by Helicopter from the heavy Cruiser HELENA. Helicopter piloted by Aviation Chief Radioman Bobbie D. Johnson, San Diego, California with aviation machinist mate John B. Bennett, New Brunswick N.J., assisting, pulled the downed pilot safely from his rubber raft, 6000 yards off shore from enemy anti-aircraft guns. Protective cover was provided by fighters from the U.S.S. PRINCETON. The downed pilot Lt. Henry S. Barbour, 399 Balsam Ave., Sunnyvale, California was returning from a successful strike when he spotted and attacked a train and was hit by AA fire. Barbour belly landed his flaming corsair in the open sea. He said Quote: “it's a wonderful feeling to know there will be a whirlybird over to pick you up in 10 minutes” unquote. Lt. Barbour is based on the Carrier PRINCETON. He suffered no injuries.

Helena Newspapers