PARIS -- United States Air Force planes are ferrying French Union troops to Indo-China in a gigantic 8,500-mile airlift direct from France and North Africa, it was revealed officially today.
INCLUDE 600 PARATROOPS
First troops to go were more than 600 crack French paratroop commandos rushed from France to aid the hard-pressed defenders of the surrounded Dien Bien Fhu garrison.
The commandos were members of the French Seventh Colonial Battalion based at Quimper, France. They marched aboard U.S. Air Force C-124 Globemasters at Orly Airport outside Paris Tuesday and were scheduled to land in Indo-China tomorrow.
A U.S. Air Force spokesman at Wiesbaden. Germany, disclosed American planes picked 'up other French Union force in North Africa. They, too, were destined for the Indo-China battle.
Informed sources said the United States threw the air bridge nearly halfway around the world after Gen. Henri E. Navarre reported from the Indo-China battlefront that he urgently needed infantry and particularly parachutists if he is to hold besieged Dien Bieu Phu.
BIGGEST IN HISTORY
It was the longest military airlift in history.
It reflected American readiness to support France to the maximum in her swaying battle with the Reds in Indo-China.
The airlift, undertaken at the request of the French Government, was described officially as being in line with present U.S. policy and in conformity with existing military assistance programs.
The latest American aid coincided with arrival in Indo-China of 20 speedy Corsair ground support fighter planes to assist the embattled and air-weak French.
The American planes will land the French troops at airfields outside the zones of combat, the announcement said.