80th anniversary: Remembering the Flying Tigers

A group celebrates the 80th Flying Tigers anniversary.
Photo by Zhang Penghui/People's Daily

On October 30th, a significant event took place at the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

It was an occasion to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the U.S. 14th Air Force’s participation in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

Hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, this event brought together nearly 100 attendees from both China and the United States, including a delegation of Flying Tigers veterans and their descendants, government officials from California, and more.

The Flying Tigers: A Historical Bond

The U.S. 14th Air Force’s role in supporting China during World War II is a testament to the enduring friendship between the two nations.

In 1941, a group of American young pilots, led by Major General Claire Lee Chennault, established the American Volunteer Group (AVG), famously known as the Flying Tigers.

They arrived in China to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese people in resisting Japanese aggression.


Photo Credit: R. T. Smith, copy at SDASM Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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By 1943, the Flying Tigers had become an integral part of the U.S. 14th Air Force. Tragically, over 2,000 Flying Tigers airmen gave their lives during the war.

Over the past 80 years, the profound bond that was formed between the Flying Tigers and the Chinese people during the crucible of war has continued to thrive and has been passed down through the generations.

Numerous memorials and museums in Chongqing, Kunming, Guilin, and other places where the Flying Tigers fought stand as testaments to their shared history.

Image Credit: James Thor, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Symbolic Visit and Wreath-Laying

During the commemorative event, the U.S. delegation paid homage to the heroes who valiantly fought against Japanese aggression by laying wreaths in front of their statues.

Two Flying Tigers veterans, Harry Moyer and Melvin McMullen, paid their respects to the portrait of Major General Claire Lee Chennault.

Notably, it was Harry Moyer’s 103rd birthday on that day, and the attendees shared their heartfelt blessings with him.

Harry Moyer, like many Flying Tigers, fought bravely against Japanese aggression in China. He fondly recounted the camaraderie and friendship that existed between the Flying Tigers and the Chinese people.

When their planes were pursued and attacked by Japanese forces, their first thought was to find the nearest Chinese village for an emergency landing.

Moyer emphasized that the bond formed during those trying times has always held a special place in the hearts of the Flying Tigers veterans.

The Importance of Preserving History

The visit to China organized by the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation was more than just a journey to revisit history. It aimed to inspire the younger generations of both countries to learn about the Flying Tigers and carry forward their spirit.

Jeffrey Greene, Chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation, stressed the importance of communication and exchange between Chinese and American people, especially among the youth.

The delegation included not only Flying Tigers veterans but also young individuals who will continue to share stories of the friendly exchanges between the two nations.

A New Generation’s Perspective

The youngest member of the visiting delegation was 15-year-old Jackson Long, the great-grandson of a Flying Tigers veteran.

For him, this was his first visit to China. He had heard stories about the Flying Tigers from his elders, but this trip allowed him to witness China’s development and experience the warmth and friendliness of the Chinese people firsthand.

 Jackson expressed his commitment to helping those around him gain a better understanding of China.

A Symbol of Friendship and Cooperation

Nell Calloway, General Chennault’s granddaughter and the CEO of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, has dedicated herself to promoting people-to-people exchanges between the U.S. and China.

She emphasized the significance of the U.S.-China relationship as the most important bilateral relationship in the world.

Both nations share a common aspiration for peace and a better life, and they aim to pass down the spirit of the Flying Tigers from generation to generation.

As two major countries, the United States and China bear the important responsibility of tackling global challenges together.

The enduring friendship between their peoples will continue to infuse momentum into the development of their bilateral relations, offering hope for global peace, stability, and progress.

Erik Lutz, Mayor of Pico Rivera, California, echoed these sentiments, expressing his desire to strengthen practical cooperation with China.

He looks forward to creating opportunities for growth and further enriching the friendship between the two nations.

This event is a reminder of the deep and lasting connection between the Flying Tigers and the Chinese people, and the potential for a bright future of cooperation and mutual benefit.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
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