Wounded Soldiers await air evacuation after being presented with the Purple Heart Medal, 24 November 1943. Two enlisted men hold a captured Japanese flag in the background.
Carter Harman (standing at left) with the 1st Air Commando Group tech crew and the now famous Sikorsky YR-4B in Asanol, India, 27 June 1944.
On a sandbar 10 miles away from the downed Soldiers, Harman set up a rendezvous point where planes could land and collect the wounded, one by one, after he made the four trips required to bring the men to safety. At the end of the second trip, the Hoverfly's engine overheated and the helicopter went down smoking. Harman waited overnight until the engine cooled, hoping enemy scouts wouldn't capture the remaining evacuees and that the fragile engine would start up again in the morning. With a bit of luck and lot of determination, Harman completed his mission. The rescue took 48 hours. Pilot Harman went on to evacuate 18 more Soldiers until the last of the 1st Air Commandos' helicopters were decommissioned due to lack of supplies. For his efforts he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Harman's air evacuation operation was unprecedented. It was the first medical evacuation by helicopter in enemy territory and marked the beginning of what is now known as Medevac. Only a year later, Second Lieutenant Louis Carle and his team of five pilots rescued over 75 wounded Soldiers from northeast Manila under intense enemy fire.