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Claire Chennault - FU Hero

Posted by Jolly on July 21, 2010


The faculty at FU is proud to add Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault to it’s Hall of Heros.  Claire Chennault was a contentious officer, and a fierce advocate of "pursuit" or fight-interceptor aircraft during the 1930s when the U.S. Army Air Corps was focused primarily on high-altitude bombardment. Kinda of sound like our military leadership of today?  Chennault retired in 1937, went to work as an aviation trainer and adviser in China, and commanded the "Flying Tigers” during World War II, both the volunteer group and the uniformed units that replaced it in 1942.

 

Poor health and disputes with superiors (I guess they didn’t do Rolling Stones interviews back then) led Chennault to resign from the service on 30 April 1937. He then went to China and joined a small group of American civilians training Chinese airmen. When the Sino-Japanese War broke out in July, he served as "air adviser" to Nationalist Government leader General Chiang Kai-shek.

 

Immediately following the Japanese air Attack on Pearl Harbor, the first news reports released to the public pertaining to Claire Chennault's war exploits occurred on 20 December 1941 when senior Chinese officials in Chungking that Saturday evening released his name to United Press International reporters to commemorate the first aerial attack made by the international air force called the American Volunteer Group (AVG).

 

These American flyers encountered ten Japanese planes heading to raid Kunming, and successfully shot down four of the raiders. Thus, Colonel Claire Chennault became America's first military leader to be publicly recognized for striking a blow against the Japanese military forces. 

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Comments:

Posted by Renestjulien on
Chennault was an exceptional fighter pilot. While performing in Miami with two other fellows, part of their act was to take off in P-12's with an eight foot length of rope tied to hand grips on the end of the wings and fly loops and rolls, etc
Then land, all while connected. There were called the men on the flying trapeze. An emissary from China asked him to come to China to train in 1937. Chennault like Billy Mitchell was quite outspoken and would never be promoted.
His hearing was already poor from radial engine noise and he was in his forties. This mission was perfect for him.
He flew against the Japanese well before 1941 and there were American volunteers who flew for him. Read up on Tommy Walker in Martin Caidin's book, " Barnstormers". Chennault is credited with 37 planes shot down. This was before the AVG whose first mission was two days after Pearl Harbor. His tactical genius as a leader and trainer with an inferior airplane,P-40, brought a score of 23 kills to one aircraft lost. This will never be equalled. His fellow aviators believed and told me, that by the time he had formed the American Volunteer Group his unrecorded score probably exceeded 200 airplanes shot down. A lot more could be said
Please read a book called "Ding Hao". "Ding Hao" was also the name of medal of honor AVG pilot James Howard.
Just thought so much was unsaid about this consummate Aviator.
Clear prop,
Rene St. Julien
FL37

Just thought your readers should know he was probably America's Leading Ace if records had been kept.
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