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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 and Margaret Kincannon.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Having seen many photographs that depicted life in China, including a farmer herding ducks, a street vendor selling chestnuts, and temples, houses and many other scenes, Kincannon always dreamed of visiting the vast and beautiful land that her father spoke about with such admiration.

"It was only after my association with the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation that I began to realize that it was a possibility," said Kincannon, who became the foundation's vice-chairwoman about two years ago.

Founded in 1998, the foundation is a US civil friendship group aimed at promoting the study and commemoration of China-US historical aviation events.

In October, Kincannon, together with her husband and daughter, paid her first visit to China, which took her to some of the cities her father visited or was stationed.

"Tears came to my eyes when our plane landed at Baishiyi, because my father was there from September 1944, when his squadron evacuated from Guilin, until January 1945," she said.

When they crossed the mountains to Chongqing, she remembered her father's story about traveling with two friends from their base, conveyed by coolies carrying sedan chairs along rice paddy paths to the city.

"I had included descriptions of those events in my book, but now I have a greater understanding of them because I have been there and have seen those places myself," she said.

Kincannon, who is a retired schoolteacher, also serves as the director of education for the foundation's Flying Tigers Friendship Schools and Youth Leadership Program.

"It is still in its early stages of development, but several schools in the US and in China have teamed together for the purposes of enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, as well as deepening mutual respect and cooperation, by commemorating the common heritage of the Flying Tigers," she said.

Kincannon said the people of the two nations have far more in common than they have differences, and the program would help improve international relationships.

"A small change can lead to a big difference," she said.

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