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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 during his mission in WWII.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Her father initially remembered little about his wartime experiences. But the more details Kincannon found from official records, newspapers and service publications, the more her father could recall.

He described missions against energy supply facilities in Wuhan, Hubei province, where the Japanese had installed massive searchlights to discourage attacks.

"They would track us in the air and that anti-aircraft fire was popping all around us," he recalled. Locked in the bright, white beam and surrounded by a barrage of flak, her father felt completely vulnerable and helpless. "I was thinking, I hope none of that stuff hits me," he said.

Far more pleasant were his memories of the Chinese people.

Kincannon said two of the mechanics who worked with her father spoke some English, and they often taught him Chinese words and phrases as they worked together.

Her father especially remembered the hospitality of the people of China and told her about being invited by one of them to a Chinese restaurant in town. "I was the only American there. All the rest of them were Chinese, and I was there as the guest of one of those Chinese men," he recalled.

Kincannon ended up gathering a vast amount of information, especially after she began to find family members of other Flying Tigers veterans, and realized she needed to share what she had discovered by writing a book.

She was able to identify 120 men who served at one time or another in the 3rd Bomb Squadron. But sadly, most of the information about them came from online obituaries.

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