EL PASO, the United States, May 12 (Xinhua) -- A formal memorial service will be held Monday for 52 Chinese pilots killed during pilot trainings in the United States in the 1940s in a national cemetery in El Paso, Texas.
Sixteen Chinese relatives of the killed pilots arrived in El Paso on Saturday, and paid respect to their ancestors buried in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery Sunday morning for the first time in more than 70 years since their death.
According to Long Yue peace charity development center in China, organizer of the event, there are altogether 52 Chinese pilots buried in Fort Bliss. After a year of hard work, the organization has managed to match 24 deceased pilots with their family members.
For Sunday's group, 11 people from five families came directly from China while five people from three families came from other places of the United States, the organizer said.
At the cemetery, relatives placed flowers and gifts from hometowns at their elders' tomb.
Li Shihua from China's Jiangxi Province came to the United States to pay respect to his uncle Li Yichang. He told Xinhua that his uncle came to the United States in 1943 and was killed in a training accident in February 1944.
"My family then received a letter from U.S. military saying my uncle was killed but there was nothing else, not even a picture. For so many years, my family was skeptical about my uncle's death and has been making every effort to try to find him," Li told Xinhua.
It was until last year when one of Li's family members stumbled across a TV program about attempts to look for lost relatives in war that finally led them to Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
Xia Weifang, secretary general of Long Yue peace charity development center, said their mission is "to soothe the war wounds, advocate human care."
"I'm very touched today to see these people are finally able to pay respect to their beloved ones," she said. "Every life in war needs to be respected."
Xia said her organization is committed to finding relatives of other Chinese pilots buried in Fort Bliss.
The Fort Bliss National Cemetery is a land of 83 acres (about 33.6 hectare) within the Fort Bliss Military Reservation located near El Paso, U.S. state of Texas on the Rio Grande river across the U.S.-Mexico border. The adjacent Fort Bliss Army Post, with its headquarters in El Paso, is the largest installation in United States Army Forces Command.