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Friends and allies in war and peace

By Zhai Xiang, Xu Xiaoqing and Wang Cong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-13 07:14


Former Flying Tiger pilot Jay Vinyard visits a memorial park dedicated to the American Volunteer Group in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in 2015.Huo Yan / China Daily

Chinese and US pilots and their families remember a shared commitment to defeat the Japanese and end their wartime occupation of China, as Zhai Xiang, Xu Xiaoqing and Wang Cong report for Xinhua.

Nell Calloway, granddaughter of the late United States' General Claire Lee Chennault, remembers her grandfather as a gentle, ordinary man with a beautiful garden and a love of storytelling.

Calloway was 8 years old when Chennault died. It was only later when she saw a photo of him in military uniform that she began to understand that her "ordinary" grandfather had lived an extraordinary life.

Calloway is now director of the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe, Louisiana. The museum is the only one in the United States dedicated to Chennault's heroic deeds and the history of the American Volunteer Group, the air corps that fought alongside the Chinese against Japan during World War II.

"Many Americans seem to have forgotten that China and the United States were close friends in the fight against Japan," Calloway said. "I hope my work helps remind others of this important relationship."

China was the first nation to fight the Japanese. The struggle started on Sept 18, 1931, when Japanese troops began their invasion of Northeast China.

On July 7, 1937, Japanese troops attacked the Lugou Bridge, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, on the southwestern outskirts of Beijing, signaling the start of a full-scale invasion.

Throughout WWII, China was a major battlefield in the fight against the Japanese and the major Asian battlefield in the global war against fascism. China fought shoulder to shoulder with the other Allies.

In 1941, close to 300 young US nationals registered to join the AVG and departed for Asia.

Organized and commanded by Chennault, the AVG was a volunteer band of pilots and ground staff whose sole purpose was to help China fight the invading Japanese troops before the United States officially entered the war.

They came to be known as the "Flying Tigers".

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