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This month in AFMS History: Operation Blue Bat

  • Published
  • By John Heitz
  • AFMS History Office

One of the earliest instances of Air Force Medical Service involvement in a contingency action occurred during Operation Blue Bat. In 1958, rebels seized control of much of Lebanon and demanded the removal of their pro-Western president.  On July 14, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered in the U.S. Marines, whose arrival on the beaches of Lebanon startled the bikini-clad vacationers. During this operation, the Air Force deployed the Composite Air Strike Force into Incirlik Air Base, Turkey (formerly Adana AB).


On July 15, personnel from the 86th Tactical Hospital, the 7030th USAF Dispensary, the 3rd and 1st Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons (AES), and augmenters from stateside bases, departed for Turkey within hours of notification.  Upon arrival, they merged a prepositioned 36-bed tactical hospital with a 10-bed base dispensary and expanded it to 100 beds.  An 11-man aeromedical evacuation team went forward to Beirut with the Troop Carrier Force. 

When U.S. forces withdrew on October 24, the Air Force hospital at Incirlik redeployed without having treated a single combat casualty but still gained valuable deployment experience.  During Blue Bat the AFMS demonstrated the capability to project its medical force in minimal time.