A gala was held at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. honoring both American and Chinese veterans of the heroic Flying Tigers led by General Claire Lee Chennault. The Flying Tigers, American pilots who fought alongside the Chinese against Japanese forces during World War II, are one of the oldest examples of successful Sino-U.S. cooperation.
The event was organized by the Flying Tigers Historical Organization (FTHO) and the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum (CAMM), two non-profit organizations that work to promote awareness about the story of the Flying Tigers and foster closer ties between the U.S. and China.
FTHO Chairman, Major General James Whitehead, Larry Jobe, President of FTHO and Nell Calloway, Director of CAMM and granddaughter of General Chennault, presented special commemorative awards to Anna Chennault, the wife of General Chennault, and Catherine Stevens, the wife of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, a former Flying Tiger pilot. In addition, several Flying Tiger veterans received service awards, including Frank Losonsky, Paul Crawford and Jerry Yellin.
Major General Whitehead said, “The Flying Tiger Historical Organization in partnership with the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum are grateful for the reception being held in our honor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. It is through events such as this that we will continue to build on a past special relationship between the Chinese and American people for a better understanding in the future.”
Several of the FTHO’s initiatives to strengthen Sino-U.S. ties were highlighted at the event, including a joint venture to build the Flying Tiger Heritage Park in Guilin, China, which is set to open in March, 2015. The Park is being built on a 123-acre site on the former Yang Tang airfield and includes the original command cave used by General Claire Chennault between 1941 and 1945 as his Operations Center.
Donors who recently gave donations to either FTHO or CAMM include Northrop Grumman, Chinese internet giant Sohu.com, Hezhan Group and Chinese-New Zealand artist Jun Cao, who donated two limited-edition prints of his most well-known brushstroke work featuring tigers, “Mission from Heaven”.
Also in attendance were Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Cynthia Chennault, FTHO Vice President K.C. Ma, FTHO Director Michael F. Bianco, U. S. Senator David Vitter and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson, son of a Flying Tiger veteran.
American actress Kerry Berry Brogan flew in on leave-of-absence from the filming of her current film “Old Boy” to show her support for the FTHO, attending the gala in a self-designed red dress embellished with original Flying Tiger squadron patches from WWII. The organization appointed Brogan as the Flying Tigers Goodwill Ambassador in July, 2012 in efforts to raise awareness amongst youth of the Flying Tigers’ legacy. Fluent in Mandarin, Brogan is presently based in Beijing and has appeared in more than 60 Chinese films and television series in a wide variety of dramatic, comedic, starring and supporting roles. Off-screen, she is well known for her work in promoting better Sino-American cultural understanding.
The Flying Tiger Historical Organization, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c) (3) corporation. FTHO in partnership with Lingui County are developing the Flying Tiger Heritage Park located in Guilin, China. The Park will provide people of both countries, and all over the world, a firsthand opportunity to see, hear and understand the significance of a special relationship that existed during WWII between the people of China and America. Further details can be found at www.flyingtigerusa.org or write to FTHO, P.O. Box 258, Groveland, CA 95321.
The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum is located in Monroe, Louisiana, the hometown of General Chennault. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that promotes aviation and military history as well as better understanding between the Chinese and American people. Further information on the Chennault Museum can be found at www.ChennaultMuseum.org.