Claire Lee Chennault was a Texas-born pilot who served in the US Army Air Corps for many years before retiring in 1937 and joining the Nationalist Chinese Air Force to help train them to fight the Japanese invaders then rampaging across China.
In 1940 Chennault was sent to America to obtain 100 modern fighter planes, pilots to fly them and ground crew to carry the fight to the enemy.
Although America was not officially in the war, President Roosevelt secretly authorized 100 pilots (enough to man at least 3 squadrons) and almost 200 other ground crew personnel to be recruited alongwith approving the sale of 100 Curtiss P40’s.
Together they would form the ‘American Volunteer Group’ and Claire Chennault was to be its leader.
Anna Chan Chennault was Chennault’s second wife. Originally a reporter and war correspondent she became a prominent Republican member of the US China Lobby and a powerful woman in her own right. During WW2 she often wore traditional Chinese dress.
David ‘Tex’ Hill was one of the best known of the ex military aviators who were recruited to join the Flying Tigers. Originally trained and qualified as a US Navy pilot he would become an ‘ace’ with at least 6 victories while flying with the ‘Tigers’.
After his China service he would transfer to the Army Air Corps and eventually the US Air Force where he remained until his retirement in 1968 as a Brigadier General.
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