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Madden Kit: Improving the Odds

Wartime needs often lead to battlefield innovations. This was the case with the Madden Kit, a rescue kit made from a hollow Mk 24 parachute flare canister.

In February 1971, Skyraider pilot Captain James Madden was in the second day of a rescue mission over Laos. Night fell over the Mu Gia Pass with the enemy still too close for a rescue helicopter. Madden returned to base to rearm, refuel, and return to protect the downed Airman.

Receiving word from the on-scene Forward Air Controller that the downed pilot’s radio batteries were dead, Capt Madden, along with a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) from his Life Support unit, developed a way to resupply Airmen from his A-1.

Using the Mk 24, Madden and his NCO filled the empty flare canister with a survival radio, batteries, water, and miniature Snickers bars. After several practice drops to calculate speed and angle, and to ensure the items would not be damaged, the improvised “Madden Kit” was ready for use.

 A-1 pilots used the Madden Kit on numerous rescue missions to resupply downed Airmen.

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