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Former US Volunteers: Flying Tigers' Spirit Left in China

About 20 veteran US aviators and their families Friday finished visiting the Monument to the Aviator Martyrs in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and left Nanjing, capital of the east China's Jiangsu Province, for Shanghai.

It's the 17th time for Edward J. Komyati, aged 84, to visit China after the World War II. He lost his right leg in the war flames and can only walk with an artificial limb.

"China is my second hometown. The Flying Tigers' spirit was left in China for ever," he said.

He showed the group members the names of his friends, John Poter and Woodsow Losli. "They were my best friends. We came to China together, but they stayed here forever. They were just in their 20s when they died," he said.

Edward J. Komyati, a member of the Flying Tigers, flew three times across the Camel Peak Aviation Route between 1942 and 1945.

The veteran US volunteer soldier has been devoted to friendly exchanges between the people of China and America ever since he retired as a colonel.

The retired colonel has paid annual visits to the Monument to the Aviator Martyrs in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression ever since 1996 by organizing groups of American youth.

65-year-old Su Wan, daughter of a Chinese pilot killed in the World War II, came to visit the US veterans, also her fathers' wartime friends. "I will never forget the friendship you and my father's generation have forged," she said.

The American Volunteer Group, who fought in China as the "Flying Tigers," was organized by Claire Lee Chennault in 1941.

Between December 1941 and September 1945, the Flying Tigers shot down and blew up 2,600 Japanese military planes, destroyed 44 warships and killed 66,700 Japanese soldiers.

Chinese and American air forces opened the famous Camel Peak Aviation Route across the Himalayas, the so-called "death route," to deliver urgently needed military supplies to support China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

More than 2,000 planes from both China and the United States were used in the heroic flights, which succeeded in delivering 730,000 tons of goods to 33,477 military personnel and achieved a flying time totaling 1.5 million hours.

The Monument to the Aviator Martyrs in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression was completed in August 1995. And it is inscribed with names of more than 3,000 martyrs in Chinese, Russian and English, including 870 Chinese, 2,186 Americans and 236 former Soviet Union soldiers.
(Xinhua News Agency May 21, 2005)

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