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USO Canteen FReeper Style ~ FlashBack Friday ~ March 14 2003
Friends of The Canteen

Posted on 03/14/2003 5:27:18 AM PST by SAMWolf




By remembering and paying tribute to the military past of our country,
we are paying tribute to those who are serving our country today.


General Claire Chennault & "The Flying Tigers"

The Flying Tigers were a group of American fighter pilots that flew for China in the early part of 1942. Led by a controversial American, Colonel Claire Chennault, they were actually called the "American Volunteer Group" (AVG), and achieved good success in their aerial battles against the Japanese.

They were a relatively small group of pilots, and never had more than 100 Curtis Warhawk P-40's (decorated with the famous red shark mouth) available. But at the time they were flying (early 1942), they were the only Americans doing ANYTHING against the Axis. With an American public reeling from Pearl Harbor and anxious to strike back "NOW!" the Flying Tigers were "the only game in town" at that point. Thus they received a lot of favorable press coverage, from reporters anxious to write about the only only Americans doing ANYTHING ANYWHERE against the Japanese.

The Flying Tigers comprised three squadrons:

1st Squadron - "Adam and Eves"
2nd Squadron - "Panda Bears"
3rd Squadron - "Hell's Angels"

The top aces of the Flying Tigers were: David Lee "Tex" Hill, Robert Neale, and Chuck Older. James Howard flew with the AVG; he later earned the Congressional Medal of Honor while flying P-51s for the 354th Fighter Group (Ninth Air Force) in Europe. Pappy Boyington was another Tiger who went on to greater fame; he had a falling out with Chennault, who gave him a Dishonorable Discharge. The mercurial Boyington never forgave him.

"Colonel" Claire Lee Chennault had been in China since the mid-Thirties; he called himself "Colonel," though his highest rank had been Major. An outspoken advocate of "pursuit" (as fighter planes were called then), in an Army Air Force dominated by strategic bomber theorists, he alienated many of his superiors. But in China, equipped with P-40's, he developed the basic fighter tactics that American pilots would use throughout the war. The Japanese planes used over China were much more maneuverable than his Warhawks, whose advantages were: speed in a dive, superior firepower, and better ability to absorb battle damage. Chennault worked out and documented the appropriate tactics that capitalized on the relative strengths of the American fighters: intercept, make a diving pass, avoid dogfighting, and dive away when in trouble. This remained the fundamental U.S. fighter doctrine throughout the Pacific War. My appreciation of the pilot's bravery and Chennault's tactical skills, however, doesn't change my assessment of the unfortunate and perhaps distracting role they played. The Chinese politics and Chinese-American relations at the time were quite complicated. The titular leader of China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai Chek, of the Kuomintang, was engaged in an endless three-way war: his Kuomintang vs. Mao's Communists vs. Japan. And his own power within the Kuomintang was dependent on balancing various warlords, cliques, and factions. Given the understandable problems posed by this situation, he always wanted more and more American aid, which he and his generals then wanted to use against internal enemies as well as Japan, or perhaps, not to use at all, but to hoard as symbols of their power.

General Chennault, got the Generalissimo's ear, and persuaded him that air power could sweep the Japanese from China, almost effortlessly and painlessly, just a few score American B-17 bombers would do the trick. Thus Chiang Kai Chek, General Chennault, Madame Chiang Kai Chek, and the powerful China Lobby used their combined influence with the American government to push Chennault's air power scheme.

Unfortunately, the adressing real issues in Nationalist China -- development of democratic or at least stable institutions, the rooting out of corruption in the Kuomintang, the training and deployment of useful Chinese infantry forces against Japan, improving the life of the ordinary villagers, etc. -- had no priority with the Generalissimo. Chennault's proposals seemed to offer such a promising way out.

The American government had its own problems, and couldn't scrape up the numbers of bombers envisioned. But keeping China in the war against Japan was understood to be in America's strategic interest (even before Pearl Harbor). What could be offered to Chiang was about 100 Curtis P-40 Warhawk fighter planes with volunteer military pilots to fly them. They fought with distinction, largely in the defense of Burma, and were absorbed into the United States Army Air Force's 23rd Fighter Group in July, 1942.


"A nation that forgets its past has no future."
Sir Winston Churchill

"Those Who Have Long Enjoyed Such Privileges As We Enjoy, Forget In Time that Men Have Died To Win Them."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airforce; army; coastguard; history; marines; michaeldobbs; military; navy; usocanteen; veterans
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The Lady's Story

These plans came together in July, 1941, when Chennault began to organize the American Volunteer Group (AVG). He acquired a chief of staff, Captain Harvey Greenlaw (who followed his boss's lead and promoted himself to Major), in Hong Kong in July, 1941. Along with Harvey came his beautiful wife, Olga Greenlaw, who kept the Group's War Diary and wrote about her experiences in The Lady and the Tigers. (The following paragraphs are based on her book. - ed.)

In August, 1941, the AVG started training in Toungoo, Burma, 175 miles north of Rangoon. Jack Newkirk, Sandy Sandell, John Armstrong, Red Probst, Oley Olson, Bob Little, Pete Atkinson, and other pilots were learning to fly Curtiss P-40's from a primitive airstrip. In these early days, they didn't have too much to do: flight training, drinking, fighting, and hunting. The lack of women (in the 1940's, read "white" women) was also a problem; Olga's personal role in alleviating that problem has been the subject of considerable gossip and speculation over the years.

May 1942, a handful of the legendary Flying Tigers stopped Japanese forces at the infamous Salween River Gorge. In a series of extremely hazardous missions, pilots of the AVG attacked Japanese columns on the Burma Road, and construction crews attempting to build a temporary bridge across the Salween Gorge.

The Flying Tigers were still training, they hadn't flown their first combat mission, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. As the Japanese threatened one Allied city after another, the British asked for a squadron of Flying Tigers to help defend Rangoon. Oley Olson's Third Squadron, "Hell's Angels," headed south, while the bulk of the AVG flew up to Kunming, to protect the terminus of the Burma Road. On December 20, the AVG engaged Japanese bombers for the first time, downing four and disrupting their bombing raid on Kunming. Over Burma, the Third Squadron also met with success, claiming six on the 23rd and ten on the 25th; before Jack Newkirk's Second Squadron relieved them.

In January, eight pilots of the First Sqn. flew to Burma to reinforce Newkirk, among them Greg Boyington, whom Olga described as "a frequent caller ... popping in at odd times for coffee or whatever." He returned to the AVG in Kunming in time to participate in a bomber escort mission on January 22. Chinese pilots, flying Russian-made SB-2's, attacked Hanoi. Sandy Sandell reported that the bombers' poor formation flying rendered both the escort and the bombing ineffective. "If we'd met any Japs, we'd have been dead pigeons."

By January 24, the Flying Tigers had claimed 73 Japanese planes, while losing 5 of their own. Japanese records indicate they had lost about one-third that many, mostly bombers. Olga's "dear, silly Sandy" and Boyington were soon rotated to Burma, where Newkirk's handful of weary Warhawks continued to punish the Japanese bombers. On February 7, Sandell was testing a P-40 with a repaired tail; it stalled and spun in, killing him on impact. The plane was destroyed so completely that only the right wheel and tail wheel were salvageable.

Through mid-February of 1942, the Japanese advances continued; Singapore fell and Rangoon became untenable. About this time, Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai Chek hosted a dinner in honor of the AVG. Olga's version of the speeches is replete with sentiments like, "Boys .. you are angels, with or without wings," and "the indomitable courage of the Chinese people," and "a bond of friendship and friendship which serves us well in the crucible of war, and will serve us equally well when vistory is ours." Oblivious to the speeches, the war, and particularly, the Japanese in Burma, pressed on. The AVG contingent (the Third Squadron replacing the First) pulled back to an airdrome at Magwe in early March. On the 9th, Rangoon finally fell. The Group held a funeral (for some officers killed in a CNAC plane crash), a wedding (for Daffy Davis and Doreen), and a birthday party (for Olga). One of the pilots, Tom Jones, gave her a .25 caliber Colt pistol.

When her work as squadron diarist, newspaper editor, and den mother/confidante overwhelmed her, she did what any proper lady of that era did. She checked herself into the hospital for a week's rest. While there, she heard about the raid on Chiang Mai, when Jack Newkirk was killed. The Chiang Mai raid, in which four Flying Tigers destroyed fifteen Japanese planes on the ground (3.75 apiece), was largely the basis of Boyington's claim to have destroyed six Japanese planes with the AVG. Also in late March, the AVG finally quit Burma, its forces on that front re-assembled at Loiwing, just over the Chinese border.

During the spring of 1942, Chennault struggled to keep the AVG the independent air force that it had been, reporting directly to Chiang Kai Chek. Pressure mounted to subsume the AVG into the Chinese Army under "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell or into the regular US Army Air Force. Casualties kept mounting - Tom Jones and Bob Little were killed. During a short trip to Delhi, India, Tex Hill and others speculated about their futures in the USAAF. At this point, it became clear that the AVG was going to disband, the 23rd Fighter Group, under Col. Robert L. Scott, would take over its responsibilities. Tex hoped for a major's commission.

In the end, only five AVG pilots joined the 23rd Fighter Group, while nineteen went to work for CNAC, the Chinese National Airlines. Many factors contributed to this. Some AVG pilots were former Marines and Navy fliers, who weren't necessarily interested in flying for the Army. Others, notably Boyington, has lousy disciplinary records, and the USAAF didn't offer them commissions. Like Tex Hill, many felt that their combat experience entitled them to higher ranks in the unblooded Army Air Force. Finally, the USAAF officer responsible for inducting the AVG men used very little tact and told them to sign up, on the Army's terms, or else go home and face the draft boards.

Olga and Harvey Greenlaw returned to the States, where Olga penned The Lady and the Tigers. Not long afterwards, their tempestuous marriage finally ended, Olga remarried and Harvey moved to Mexico.

Interestingly, Colonel Robert L. Scott, author of the best-selling God is my Co-Pilot, never was a Flying Tiger. He commanded its successor organization, the 23rd F.G., but never served with the American Volunteer Group.

Thus, while there can be no doubt about the courage, tenacity, and tactical successes of the Flying Tigers, nor about the useful role they played in boosting American morale at a critical point, strategically, they typified so much that was wrong with the Nationalist Chinese government and the American efforts to help the Chinese people.

During the 1930s, the United States took a position of neutrality in regard to foreign aggression. When a civil war erupted in Spain in 1936, many Americans formed volunteer corps which traveled to Europe to fight on the side of the Spanish Loyalists opposing the Fascist Nationalists under Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Meanwhile, armed conflict had erupted between China and Japan a year earlier in 1935. As this war progressed in Asia, volunteers once again became a focal point in the fight against armed aggression. The American Volunteer Group--popularly known as "the Flying Tigers"--assisted China in the attempt to repel the Japanese invaders. Long before Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II, Americans fought the Japanese in Southeast Asia.
1 posted on 03/14/2003 5:27:18 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; snippy_about_it; radu; HiJinx; MoJo2001; LaDivaLoca; bentfeather; ...
The story begins with General Claire Lee Chennault. Born on September 06, 1893, in Commerce, Texas, Chennault grew up on a small cotton farm near the town of Waterproof in Franklin Parish, Louisiana. A graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, he volunteered for the Army when the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. He applied for flight training school but was rejected. Instead, he was accepted for officer training and commissioned a 1st Lieutenant in the infantry reserve on October 27, 1917. Transferring to the Signal Corps, Chennault worked in an observation balloon section. His repeated applications for flight training were ignored until October of 1918. He was accepted into flight training school and graduated on April 09, 1919. However, by this time, World War I had ended.

General Claire Lee Chennault

Chennault served in the Army Air Corps throughout the next eighteen years. On February 25, 1937, the Air Corps Retirement Board recommended that he leave the service. Now age 43, Chennault had been offered a job training fighter pilots in China earlier in December of '36. As such, he retired on April 30, 1937, and sailed for China eight days later. The air war between China and Japan became more of an even match under his tutelage to the Chinese. Japanese bombers no longer assaulted targets beyond the range of their fighter escorts once Chennault's Chinese fighter pilots took to the air. But by the end of 1938, most of China's air force had been destroyed.

In August of 1941, the first recruits of the American Volunteer Corps, a group of trained and commissioned pilots recruited from the U.S. Armed Forces, arrived in Rangoon, Burma. These men were not serving in an official capacity for the United States. Rather, they had left the service and were--so far as international law was concerned--simply mercenaries and soldiers of fortune. This allowed the United States to maintain its state of neutrality. The AVG was equipped with P-40B Warhawk fighters. Chennault divided the group into three squadrons: 1st Pursuit Squadron (nicknamed the "Adams & Eves"), 2nd Pursuit Squadron (the "Panda Bears"), and 3rd Pursuit Squadron (the "Hell's Angels").

The 3rd Pursuit Squadron emblem: "Hells Angels"

The story of the origin of the AVG's nickname is somewhat varied. The Chinese Republic's national animal was the tiger. There was also the story that the shark's teeth painted on the nose of the planes represented the tiger shark, a creature deemed unlucky by Japanese fishermen. Some sources attributed the name as an homage to Chennault's old alma mater, LSU's "Fighting Tigers." The Chinese newspapers reportedly called the AVG the "Fei Hui," or "Flying Tigers," and the world press adopted it as a more colorful moniker than "American Volunteer Group." Whatever the case, Walt Disney studios designed the badge used by the group: a 'V' for Victory lying on its side with a winged tiger racing out of it. Of course, the AVG kept a tiger cub as a mascot along with a leopard.

A variation of the badge designed by Walt Disney studios for the Flying Tigers.

Chennault recognized the shortages of his unit in both pilots and aircraft. Pilots were only to engage the enemy on the most favorable terms. Dogfights were strictly forbidden. The P-40 could not out-turn a Japanese fighter. Instead, the tactic used was to gain altitude over the enemy and then dive, making a firing pass as they passed through the enemy formation and then continuing onward. Lighter Japanese planes could never accelerate fast enough to catch a Warhawk. Chennault's tactics of high speed hit-and-run paid off during a time when the AVG consistently faced and outfought a numerically superior enemy force.

A Chinese soldier guards a line of American P-40 fighter planes, painted with the shark-face emblem of the "Flying Tigers," at a flying field somewhere in China, cira 1942. Photo courtesy of National Archives.

In less than one year, the Flying Tigers claimed 299 kills of Japanese aircraft; impressive considering this was accomplished by some 60 pilots and nearly 200 ground crew. However, with Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 07, 1941, the context of the war changed. The United States no longer needed to maintain neutrality. At midnight on July 04, 1942, the Flying Tigers were officially disbanded. Chennault returned to the Army Air Corps as a Brigadier General. Five pilots and 25 ground crew followed him back into the Air Corps into what became the 14th Air Force. The remaining members of the Tigers returned to their original branches of service.

In the United States, all of the 47 old planes would have been scrapped or sold immediately for salvage. All had been patched and repatched. Engine oil had been filtered and re-used until even the rugged Allison engines in the battered P-40s choked on it. Lack of plane tires was a serious problem.  The rocky Chinese air strips cut the four-ply tires to ribbons.  Many of the pilots went into combat with their tail-wheel tire casings stuffed with rags.

All of the P-40 engines were long overdue on major overhauls. Some engines had run-in air combat missions-as long as three hundred hours without adequate repair.

Throughout the sticky heat of the East China summer, Chennault's pilots and mechanics had worked and flown around the clock on occasion to keep the enemy off balance and the tiny force of planes in flying condition. Very few of the mechanics had coveralls. They worked in shorts and shoes to save their only change of clothing, blistered by the sun, chilled by the sudden cold rain storms. They worked from before sunrise until long after dark, by the light of kerosene lamp or hand flashlight, bitten raw by insects attracted by their lights.

"A Thousand Springs"
Ms. Anna Chennault.
2 posted on 03/14/2003 5:27:57 AM PST by SAMWolf (The French are cordially invited to come to Wisconsin and smell our dairy air)
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To: SAMWolf
'Since the Flying Tigers first spread their wings in the skies above China, the enemy has learned to fear the intrepid spirit they have displayed in face of his superior numbers. They have become the symbol of the invincible strength of the forces now upholding the cause of justice and humanity. The Chinese people will preserve forever the memory of their glorious achievement.'

-- Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek

3 posted on 03/14/2003 5:28:14 AM PST by SAMWolf (The French are cordially invited to come to Wisconsin and smell our dairy air)
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To: All

Canteen Blessing
for the Troops

May your heart be calm
your voice strong
steady of foot
radiant of smile
confident and willing
knowing you are safe
Blessings upon you...


4 posted on 03/14/2003 5:33:58 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: SAMWolf; LindaSOG; radu; Radix; bentfeather; LaDivaLoca; Severa; Bethbg79; southerngrit; ...

Good morning, Sam! Good morning, Canteen Crew! Good morning, EVERYBODY!





5 posted on 03/14/2003 5:34:38 AM PST by tomkow6 (.........)
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To: SAMWolf
Good Morning Sam!!
6 posted on 03/14/2003 5:35:04 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: SAMWolf; LindaSOG; radu; Radix; bentfeather; LaDivaLoca; Severa; Bethbg79; southerngrit; ...

Chicagoland Weather
Current Conditions:
As reported at KORD, O'Hare Arpt.. ..
Last update Fri 14 Mar 2003 4:56 AM CST.

24°F Feels Like: 17°F
UV Index: 0 Minimal
Wind: From the SSE at 6 mph
Humidity: 77 %
Visibility: unlimited
Barometer: 30.23 inches and Falling

Today's Forecast Fri 14 Mar 2003 03:46 AM CST
Mostly Sunny
Low 35°F
High 49°F

7 posted on 03/14/2003 5:36:05 AM PST by tomkow6 (.........)
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To: tomkow6
Good morning all.

8 posted on 03/14/2003 5:36:33 AM PST by Aeronaut (This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it.)
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To: SAMWolf; Kathy in Alaska; radu; MoJo2001; Ragtime Cowgirl; SK1 Thurman; SevenofNine; zip; ...
Click on the Helm
and I'll guide you
to the start of
today's thread by SAMWolf

Showing support and boosting the morale of
our military and our allies military
and the family members of the above.
Honoring those who have served before.

Please Thank someone in the military for ensuring our Freedom.
Take a moment and Thank a Service Man or Woman.
Just Click on the graphic to SEND a message to someone in the military.

CLICK HERE for Snail Mail Addresses of
Military Friends and Freepers
of the Canteen

9 posted on 03/14/2003 5:37:36 AM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (Have you said Thank You to a service man or woman today?)
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To: SAMWolf
You're a busy man today SAM. ;)
10 posted on 03/14/2003 5:38:02 AM PST by Aquamarine
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub
G'morning to you, friend. God bless our troops!
11 posted on 03/14/2003 5:38:12 AM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; xm177e2; mercy; Wait4Truth; hole_n_one; GretchenEE; Clinton's a rapist; ..

12 posted on 03/14/2003 5:38:39 AM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks for today's thread which helps the Canteen meet one of it's mission purposes.

Showing support and boosting the morale of
our military and our allies military
and the family members of the above.
Honoring those who have served before.

13 posted on 03/14/2003 5:43:04 AM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
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To: SAMWolf; LindaSOG; radu; Radix; bentfeather; LaDivaLoca; Severa; Bethbg79; southerngrit; ...
Today's FEEBLE attempt at humor:

When I was in high-school, Joel, a buddy of mine & I were
discussing a girl from English class we had both befriended.
Her family had recently relocated to the metro area from a
farm way out in the sticks.

We both agreed that we'd never met a sweeter girl before, but
she was too naive and trusting.

Joel said, "Listen, for her own good, and as her friends, we've
got to teach her quickly what's right & what's wrong."

I replied, "Agreed! You teach her what's right."
14 posted on 03/14/2003 5:44:31 AM PST by tomkow6 ( today "clothing optional" casual Friday?)
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To: tomkow6; bentfeather; All
Good Morning. TGIF!!

Please give a thought and say a prayer for our deployed troops, who don't know one day of the week from the next, who tell the time of day by what meal they're eating. We enjoy our TGIF because of their sacrifices. They're working long hours, 7 days a week.
15 posted on 03/14/2003 5:46:32 AM PST by SAMWolf (The French are cordially invited to come to Wisconsin and smell our dairy air)
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To: SAMWolf
Good Morning SW, thank you for our Friday history.

Finally warming up around here. Woo-Hoo.

16 posted on 03/14/2003 5:51:40 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: SAMWolf; All
Good morning (-:
17 posted on 03/14/2003 5:52:13 AM PST by firewalk
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To: bentfeather
Morning, Ms Feather!
18 posted on 03/14/2003 5:52:29 AM PST by tomkow6 ( today "clothing optional" casual Friday?)
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To: snippy_about_it
Morning, Snippy! Did you get any sleep yet?
19 posted on 03/14/2003 5:53:17 AM PST by tomkow6 ( today "clothing optional" casual Friday?)
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To: SAMWolf; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; Kathy in Alaska; tomkow6; JohnHuang2
Mornin', everybody !! Happy Friday !

46 degrees as I post this. Headin' for around 72 today . . .

Have a cup while you FReep !

For those who prefer hot chocolate.....

20 posted on 03/14/2003 5:55:36 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye Saddam! / Check out my Freeper site !:
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