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Book project pieces together tales of Flying Tigers

Photos discovered in hat box lead to appreciation of closer Sino-US ties

By Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-17 14:18

James Mills (back row, left) and US and Chinese mechanics pose in front of a B-25 bomber at Moran Air Field in Assam, India.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Fifteen years ago, on a visit to her parents' home in Texas, Margaret Kincannon found a hat box in which they kept old photographs, including a great many from the military service of her father, James Mills, who used to be a B-25 bomber crew chief.

"He was then approaching 90 years old, and I realized that time was running short for me to learn more about his wartime experiences," she said.

"I asked if I could take the photos home with me because I hoped to find clues about the people and places pictured in them."

Two months later, her parents' house was flooded after a hurricane struck the United States' Gulf Coast.

"The photographs would have been destroyed if I had not taken them to my home farther inland,"Kincannon said, adding that she considered it a sign that she should continue her efforts to learn more.

Following a note — "Sgt J H Mills, 3 Bomb Sq., 1 Bomb Gr., CACW 14 Air Force 627" — written by her father on the back of one of several small, colored photographs of tourist attractions near Chongqing in southwestern China, Kincannon began searching the internet for information.

CACW was the abbreviation for the Chinese-American Composite Wing — popularly known as the Flying Tigers — the only organization in World War II made up of both US and Chinese personnel who worked side-by-side, both on the ground and in the air.

When her father returned home in 1945 after his service in the squadron, Kincannon was only 18 months old. "I knew that he was a 'Flying Tiger' since childhood, although I never really understood what that meant until I began my research," she said.

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