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This Week in History

“This Week in History” is a weekly recounting of historical events which shaped today’s U.S. Air Force August 29, 1952, The U.S participated in Operation Hajji Baba which sent out 13 C-54 Skymasters to airlift 3,763 stranded Muslim pilgrims. Muslim pilgrims were stranded from Beirut, Lebanon, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as they tried to make their annual pilgrimage to Mecca, regarded as a holy site, as part of the Hajj. The Hajj is a religious obligation followers fulfill at least once in a lifetime to travel to Mecca. Planning for the operation took more than four days and was treated as an emergency, thus the operation was sent to the Military Air Transport Service. The MATS were well-experienced in conducting of emergency airlifts. Alerting orders were sent out to two U.S. wings: the 1602nd Air Transport Wing near Wiesbaden, West Germany, and the 1603rd Air Transport Wing at Wheelus Air Base, Libya. The 41st Air Transport Squadron at Wheelus and the 86th ATS and 1629th Support Squadron at Rhein-Main AB, West Germany, would provide airmen and aircraft for the mission. The alert order called for the airlifters of the two wings to carry some 1,000 to 1,500 pilgrims from Beirut to Jeddah, about 50 miles from Mecca. In all the Air Force delivered a total of 3,763 passengers—nearly four times original estimates, to Jeddah. Operation Hajji Baba helped to restore America's standing in the Middle East.

VIRIN: 130901-F-RS318-000.JPG
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