President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of October 7 with Anna Chennault (陳香梅), the widow of Flying Tigers Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault. The president recalled the Lieutenant General's important contributions in assisting the ROC during the War of Resistance Against Japan, and also presented Mrs. Chennault with a medal commemorating victory in the War of Resistance, which she accepted on behalf of her late husband.
In remarks, the president stated that he was extremely pleased to meet Mrs. Chennault and Cynthia Louise Chennault, Lieutenant General Chennault's younger daughter with Mrs. Anna Chennault, in the run-up to the ROC's 2015 Double Tenth National Day. This year is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance, and Taiwan's retrocession, making this meeting all the more meaningful, the president said.
President Ma remarked that Claire Chennault was invited to come to China in 1937 by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) to serve as an advisor to the Nationalist Government's Aviation Committee and assist in the development of the ROC Air Force. Following the outbreak of the War of Resistance, he trained pilots from the ROC Air Force in Kunming and recruited volunteer pilots from the United States to come to the ROC to assist in the war effort.
The president noted that the Soviet Union and Japan in 1940 signed a neutrality pact. That paved the way for better relations between those two countries, but also caused the Soviet Union to withdraw its team of volunteer pilots stationed in the ROC at that time. Subsequently, Chennault organized the American Volunteer Group (AVG), which came to be known as the Flying Tigers, the only foreign group of pilots at that time to assist the ROC in the skies against the Japanese Air Force, the president said.
President Ma said that Chennault arrived in the ROC in 1937 and did not leave until 1945, so he was in China longer than any other high ranking foreign officer. In addition, the AVG, the US 14th Army Air Force, and the Chinese-American Composite Wing, all of which were organized by Chennault, all dealt heavy blows to Japanese forces.
The president said that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and Taiwan's retrocession. The government has invited foreign nationals who assisted the ROC during the war, or their descendants, to come to Taiwan to commemorate this important period in history. Invitees include the daughter of David Lee "Tex" Hill, Squadron Leader in the Flying Tigers, and the son of Flying Tigers Squadron Vice Leader Lee Hsueh-yan (李學炎), as well as Pilot Wei Hsien-wen (韋憲文).
President Ma also stated that Lieutenant General Chennault continued to assist the ROC even after the War of Resistance ended. He helped the ROC government acquire military aircraft and create the Civil Air Transport. These aircraft helped deliver supplies and also transport ROC government officials and military personnel to Taiwan, thus making an enormous contribution to the ROC. To commemorate the contributions of Lieutenant General Chennault to the ROC, the 401st Tactical Composite Wing of the ROC Air Force has actively put together a collection of his various deeds. In addition, following the acquiescence of Mrs. Chennault, a bronze statue of the lieutenant general was, in August 2006, moved from Xinsheng Park in Taipei to a museum at the 401st Tactical Composite Wing base in eastern Taiwan's Hualien. This museum is preserving many historical artifacts of the Flying Tigers and is beneficial in adding to the understanding of the history of the ROC Air Force by the public, the president said.
President Ma reiterated that the ROC's current series of activities to commemorate the war is not to flaunt the fact that we won the war, but to prevent war; not to stir up hatred, but to condemn aggression and pursue peace. He hopes that the public will remember that historical period through these activities which are the largest on the scale, with the highest number of the events, and the most successful ones.