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The Flying Tigers

Joseph H. Sweeney was a Communications Officer with the Flying Tigers in China, Burma and India. He was part of the organisation to stop the Japanese advance in Asia.

The Flying Tigers

During the summer of 1941, 300 young American men and women secretly trained in the jungles of Southeast Asia, preparing to face the Japanese Air Force in combat over the skies of China and Burma. Within weeks of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, their heroic exploits captured the imagination of the world. The Chinese called them Fei Hu for the shark's teeth painted on their planes. The world knew them as the Flying Tigers.

For years after the Flying Tigers disbanded in 1942, they had been known as a mercenary air force in the service of the Chinese Government. Finally on July 4th, 1991, in a ceremony honouring the Flying Tigers, the United States Government belatedly admitted the truth - the Flying Tigers had been created by secret order of President Franklin Roosevelt. Months before Pearl Harbour, the Flying Tigers were created to help the Chinese defend their cities from relentless bombing by the Japanese, who had invaded China in 1937.

Three hundred men and women were recruited from within the ranks of the U.S. Armed Services. Pilots, aircraft mechanics, propeller specialists, doctors, nurses, clerks and even a Chaplin joined what was called the American Volunteer Group. They signed a one-year contract to protect the only supply route open to the United States to deliver the war material to China - the Burma Road. They boarded ships from the West Coast in the Spring and Summer of 1941, traveling as missionaries, planters and circus performers. Their disguises were meant to mask their true mission and protect FDR's secret effort to keep China from falling to the Japanese without provoking a war with Japan.

In the end, the Flying Tigers destroyed approximately 650 Japanese aircraft with the loss of only 73 of their own. The group lost 10 pilots in combat, 10 in aircraft accidents, three killed in air raids and three captured.

This story was send to us by Joe Sweeney.

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