[Editor’s Note: This unique photo was sent to The Korean War Educator by Frank A. Imparato of Downingtown, PA. Frank was a KMAG Advisor (US Korean Military Advisory Group) to I ROK Corps as Sergeant Major. He served in Korea from late April 1952 to February 1953. I ROK Corps was situated in North Korea somewhere between Yangyang and Mundo-no-ri in the Punch Bowl sector. The Corps consisted of three divisions: the 5th (replaced the 3rd division), the Capitol, and the 11th division—all South Korean divisions. As Advisors, the Corps consisted of EM and Officers with their Korean counterparts, G-1, G-2, G-3, Signal Corps, Air Force, Marines, radio operators, cooks, motor pool, etc., in all phases of a military organization.]
Frank tells us, "The story of this P-51 begins one day around September or October of 1952, when the AF radio manned jeep received a message from an AF pilot that he was in trouble. His electrical and hydraulic system were inoperable and could not lower his landing gear as a result of enemy ground fire on a sortie mission. He said he would not be able to make it back to his base in Taegu. He was instructed to land at K-50 airstrip (North Korea) and would be met by US and Korean personnel to assist and protect him in all phases of a rescue mission.
We arrived at the airstrip and within a short time we could see the P-51 coming low and fast, skimming and thrashing through the rice fields with mud and rice weeds splattering all over. The plane finally coming to a halt cross-wise on the landing strip. As you can see by the photo, this P-51 cracked in half with its engine practically torn out. The pilot was shaken up but unharmed. This air strip was used for all purposes, transporting supplies, personnel, equipment, as well as emergency landings of AF and Navy aircraft consisting of P-51s, Corsairs, and F-80 Shooting Star jets which were unable to make it to their base from sortie missions. It is unbelievable how they made it from the damage of ground fire when doing low level strafing and bombing."