Excerpted from The Flying Tigers Heritage Park website —
Why the Flying Tiger Historical Park?
The obvious answer is it is a chance to honor, preserve the memory of, and record for history the remarkable story that is the Flying Tigers, the Chinese and the CBI theater of World War II. A story that for many reasons has been overlooked, forgotten, or buried.
Many books have been written about the Flying Tigers and the pilots who flew the Hump (Air supply route from India to China across the Himalayan Mountains… the most dangerous air supply route in the world.) but for the most part the story and record set by these combatants has been passed over when reporting on the larger history of the Pacific War in WW II. The Chinese contribution has all but been ignored and yet their sacrifices where what made it possible for our American fighting men to achieve the success they did.
So, within the park grounds, the museum and the cave, we will tell their story. We will have memorial walls and statues honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on foreign soil. The museum will have archives which will hold records, books and personal accounts of that dark period in our world history. Photographs and artifacts, both military and personal, will be on display. Archival film footage will allow one to revisit that time and experience a little of what these warriors experienced.
The Flying Tiger Heritage Park will honor and remember all US personnel who served in China during the Second World War. The Chinese have never forgotten what these brave men and women did for them during the dark days of World War Two. The Chinese do not distinguish between flying forces but rather consider all airmen who served in China to be Flying Tigers – Fighter Pilots, Bomber Pilots, Transport Pilots and ground crews. Elsewhere on this site you will find moving stories relating to the cooperation given by the Chinese to the Flying Tigers. Rescues were made at great risk to and sometimes death for the Chinese.
When reading the histories of the war in the China theater, it can clearly be said that “Never have so few done so much for so many with so little.”
With courage, Honor, and Valor impossible odds were overcome.
The Less Obvious Answer Is More Compelling…
People and governments tend to forget or sanitize what happened, sanitize what happened, or distort the record for their own ends. Nowhere is that more true than in the CBI and China theater of WW II.
In the late 1990’s the Japanese government published a text book for their high school students which depicted the Japanese Army of WW II as an “Army of Liberation”. This text book failed to mention the rape of Nanching, Unit 731- the Japanese chemical and biological experimentation unit which used Chinese civilians and prisoners of war as guinea pigs, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, Korean comfort women, or any of numerous other atrocities committed by the Japanese military forces in WW II.
When the Asian nations who had these crimes perpetrated upon them learned of this text book there was hue and cry which demanded that the Japanese remove the text book from their schools. The book was withdrawn but it exemplifies the lengths that will be gone to in order to cover up and remove from history that which is undesirable or embarrassing to a people or a nation.
On a tour to China, while in Guilin, we came across a couple of Japanese tourists who were asked if they had sensed any hostility from the Chinese for the atrocities committed by the Japanese against the Chinese in WW II. Their answer was eye opening. “Oh we weren’t in China in WW II.”
These Japanese tourists didn’t know because their government has chosen to keep this embarrassing part of Japan’s history from them. History ignored or forgotten is history to be repeated and we never want this kind of history repeated again.
Guilin is rapidly becoming the fourth leg on the tourist route to China and, as such, the Flying Tiger Historical Park and General Chennault’s Command and Operation Cave will be on a well traveled path accessible to people of all nations. This should insure that the widest possible audience is exposed to the history that occurred here and in the rest of China.
The last reason for the park is we have an opportunity to strengthen and build on the genuine feelings of good will left by the Flying Tigers. The Chinese have never forgotten what these men accomplished on their soil for their benefit and the Flying Tigers have never forgotten what the Chinese did for them. 95% of all Flying Tigers who were shot down in enemy territory and rescued by the Chinese made it back to their own lines to fight another day. Often the Chinese rescuing the Flying Tigers paid the ultimate price protecting the Tigers.
The Flying Tiger Historical park will be a place where our two great nations and people can come together to remember and honor the past while working for a bright and peaceful future.
Guilin is easily accessed by Chinese citizens and tourists alike. The Flying Tiger Historical Park will be a place where the people of our two great nations can visit to remember and honor the past while working for a bright and peaceful future… honoring past friendships by strengthening future relationships.