AIR TASK GROUP ONE (ATG-1)
ATG-1 was the first of several
air task groups that were formed when North Korean troops invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. U.S military forces had been severely reduced between 1945 and
1950. The Congress had put strict limits on the number of Navy commissioned
carriers and air groups. For example, carriers had been reduced from 28 CV/CVLs
to 11 CVB/CV/CVLs. To provide additional forces quickly, and still comply with
the Congressional constraints, Navy planners: (1) established (but did not commission) air task groups, and (2) formed each one with individual
squadrons drawn from four different commissioned air groups, three regular and
Thus ATG-1 was formed with VF-194
from CVG-19, VF-52 from CVG-5 and VF-111 from CVG-11. The recalled Ready
Reserve squadron, VF-653, was from CVG-65 at NAS Akron. Specialized detachments
(night attack, antisub, photo, helo rescue, etc.) comprised the rest of ATG-1.
It was formed in October 1951 and disestablished in February 1959. The ATG-1
insignia, designed by one of the recalled pilots, a commercial illustrator,
depicts the ATG winged ONE decimating the red star of the evil empire.
Deployments in USS: VALLEY FORGE (CV-45) 1951-52 BOXER
WASP (CVA-18) 1954-55 LEXINGTON (CVA-16) 1956 BENNINGTON
Squadrons: VF-111 VF-52
VF-653 VF-194 VF-151
VF-44 VA-196 VF-112
Detachments of: VC-3 VC-11
VC-35 VC-61 HU-1
VAH-6 VAW-111 VA(AW)-35
VFP-61 VX-4 GMGRU-4
Type aircraft flown: AD-2/3/1Q/4NA/4Q/6/4W/4NL/2Q/6/5W/5Q/5N F4U-4/4B/5N/5NL
HO3S-1 HUP-2/3 AJ-2
A3D-2 F7U-3/3M FJ-4B
On its first deployment in USS
Valley Forge, it initiated combat operations on 11 Dec. 1951. Its assigned
mission was to conduct aerial interdiction against enemy lines of
communication, transportation, industrial and supply facilities, through strikes
in the northeastern Korean rail network and selected targets, and by means of
jet armed reconnaissance flights over enemy supply routes During this 6-month
combat tour, ATG-1s total bomb tonnage dropped had
exceeded that of all carrier air groups combined during the most intense
six-month period of the recent war in the Pacific, attributable largely to the
superior bomb carrying capability of the post-WWII AD Skyraider. The ATG-1 ADs
dropped 114 2,000 lb bombs; ADs and F4Us dropped 3,507 1000 lb bombs and
370 napalm; and ADs, F4Us and F9Fs dropped 1,607 500 lb, 15,395 250 lb and 10,679
100 lb bombs; and fired 861,840 rounds of 20mm and 860,493 rounds of .50 cal. gun
Details about many of the ATG-1
operations are described in the seven references below. Some of those
operations inspired two Hollywood movies. One was Men of the Fighting Lady, about a
pilot blinded by antiaircraft fire, being guided by radio from another pilot,
out of enemy territory and on to a safe landing. The other movie, The Bridges
at Toko-ri, from the James Michener novel, is about a recalled naval reserve
pilot, shot down over North Korea, and the failed rescue attempt when the
helicopter was also shot down. Michener patterned his main character after two
VF-194 Skyraider pilots that he had met and interviewed during his visit aboard
Valley Forge as a war correspondent.
During that deployment, there
were 23 pilots and two air crewmen lost. In the POW exchange in 1953, four of
the pilots and the two air crewmen were returned. Korean combat operations
ceased during the second ATG-1 deployment in USS Boxer. The other four
deployments were also to WestPac until ATG-1 was disestablished in 1959.
Air Task Groups by
VADM D.W. Cooper, The Hook Spring 1983.
Air Task Group ONE
by Bob Lawson, The Hook Spring 1983.
Behind the Bridges at
Toko-ri by Richard F. Kaufman, Naval Aviation News March-April 2002.
Where Are They Now?
Harry Ettinger by Barrett Tillman, The Hook Winter 1999.
Blind and Alone over
North Korea by Ken Schechter, in Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul:
Stories to Stir the Pride and Honor the Courage of our Veterans by Jack
Canfield et al. 2001.
Down in the Dirt
by Warren Thompson, Combat Aircraft December 1999.
Clipper One and the
Flying Circus by Dave Robertson, The Hook Summer 2009.