J.V. "Jay" Vinyard was barely 21 when he went to China and flew a Douglas C-47 Skytrain over the "Hump" in 87 round trips between China and India. The cargo and fuel in the transport plane were critical to supply the 14th US Air Force and the Flying Tigers fighting the Japanese in China.
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots at that time to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains. The Flying Tigers were a US volunteer group who came to China to fight the Japanese during World War II.
On Friday morning in Washington, visiting Chinese Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman Fan Changlong and his delegation met Vinyard, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday on August 7, and several children and grandchildren of Americans who helped Chinese during the War of Resistance against the Japanese (1937-1945).
Fan thanked the guests and expressed his gratitude to the Americans who helped and supported the Chinese cause 70 years ago. "The Chinese people have not forgotten that," he said.
He told the guests that China will hold a grand ceremony in Beijing on September 3 to mark the end of the War of Resistance against the Japanese and the world’s anti-fascist war.
Fan indicated that the event is not aimed at today's Japan or Japanese people. "It is to reflect on that part of history and prevent the revival of militarism," he said. Fan criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s views on history for not being truly remorseful to the crimes of Japanese militarism during the war.
Vinyard, who just returned from a trip to China in March, said he is very happy to be invited to China’s commemorative event in September. He said it’s a great feeling that Chinese people remember him so well.
“They honored me far beyond what I did,” he told Fan. “We appreciate that Chinese remember us. We are not always remembered,” said Vinyard, who lives in north Louisiana and is in good shape.
He explained that the US forces he belonged to during WWII were not part of the Flying Tigers, "but we were the ones that kept Flying Tigers flying. We were their pipelines, the fueling stations," he said.
Nell Calloway, granddaughter of Flying Tiger commander General Claire Lee Chennault, said at the ceremony that Americans can learn a lot from the Chinese in remembering their heroes.
Calloway said she is concerned about the current status of US-China relations, and that the two countries need to improve relations.
"To do this, we need to remember our history together, how we served together and fought together. We need to use this background of working together as brothers to win a war," she said.
Calloway said she would like to see the 70th anniversary not just as the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. "I like to see it as our first anniversary of us coming together and working together towards a better future," said Calloway, who runs the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe, Louisiana, to honor his grandfather and his comrade-in-arms in China.
Fan Changlong (3rd from right), vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, stands next to J.V. "Jay" Vinyard, a US WWII veteran who took part in the China-Burman-India Theater as a transport plane pilot. On Friday morning in Washington, Fan met Vinyard, who helped Chinese during the War of Resistance against the Japanese (1937-1945). Also attending the meeting were Nell Calloway (2nd from right), granddaughter of General Claire Lee Chennault, commander of the US volunteer air force group known as the Flying Tigers; John Domke (2nd from left) and Paula Stering (3rd from left), son and daughter of Paul Domke, who was in the US observer team to Yan'an, the communist cradle during the war; and Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (1st on the right) and members of Fan's visiting delegation. [Photo by CHEN WEIHUA/CHINA DAILY]