A file photo taken on July 14, 2015, shows the former Flying Tigers vetran John Yee at his home in Denver, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]
The very next day, the scrappy force of all-American flyboys, led by Chennault, routed the Japanese by shooting down 10 of their planes, while the Americans lost none.
Yee remembers that moment like it was yesterday -- hearing the yells of joy, surprise and exaltation from people across the war-torn city that night -- the excitement, the smiles, and the hugs -- as Kunming residents savored the first of many American victories against superior Japanese forces over the skies of southwest China.
"It was the greatest success story in the history of aviation fighting," asserts Yee, who was a history professor at the University of Denver and University of Colorado in the 1960s. "It is a bond America and China will share forever."
Yee worked with legendary American General Chennault in the control room day after day, and later came to the United States to train at some of US military bases.
Yee stayed in America after the war ended, becoming a leader in Colorado's Asian-American community, and enjoying an award-winning, 30-year teaching career.
"It seems like more Japanese-American back-rubbing in Pearl Harbor this month," Yee said, "There are several countries that Japan should apologize to, and China is at the top of the list."
"The visit to pearl Harbor by Shinzo Abe is more US-Japan theater. The first people the Japanese should be apologizing to are the Chinese -- for the Rape of Nanking, for invading China, for murdering millions of Chinese people," the retired history professor said in his open letter.