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US 'Flying Tiger' Pilots Meet Chinese Veterans

Two US "Flying Tiger" pilots who helped fight invading Japanese troops 60 years ago came back to China for a reunion with their Chinese wartime friends in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province last Thursday.

The two pilots, 83-year-old Mark McDonnell and 81-year-old Paul Crawford, came to China along with the US Flying Tiger Friendship Delegation to China.

"The war 60 years ago is a painful memory," McDonnell said. "It claimed many people's lives and left the survivors homeless. We should not forget the miserable history. I hope there would be no fighting and wars in the world any more."

"China had no cars at that time and a few trucks were used for military service," Crawford said. "China's changed so much except that the people are always warm-hearted and hard-working."

The two came to China as Flying Tigers in the fall of 1944 and left in June 1945. They participated in bombing runs on the Japanese supply routes in Hebei and once met with Chairman Mao.

This is their first visit to China since the war.

The four Chinese veterans they came back to see had not forgotten the friendship with the US pilots during the wartime. Yan Xin, one of the four Chinese veterans, once saved seven Flying Tiger members in the war.

"We tried to provide them with the best food we had, eggs and millet, because they came voluntarily to China to help us fight Japanese invaders. We felt we should provide them with the best foods," Yan said.

Yan served as head of a local anti-Japanese committee and saved seven pilots shot down by Japanese invaders.

During the meeting, the two US pilots and the four Chinese veterans expressed their hope that the Sino-US friendship could flow forever like the Yangtze River in China and the Mississippi River in the United States.

The two men visited Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Xi'an in Shaanxi Province before they came to Shijiazhuang Thursday.

The Flying Tigers were a volunteer band of US military men sent secretly to Asia by President Franklin D. Roosevelt before the United States entered World War II. They joined an air force organized for China by Claire Lee Chennault, a retired US Army colonel.


(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2005)

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