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 Use of Flying Tiger name #2, Reposting (4 Replies, Read 15716 times)
LydiaRossi
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Post Group: Elite Member
Posts: 295
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Widow of AVG pilot J. R. Rossi
The following was posted on December 10, 2010 and had one of the largest number of viewings at our forum.
Something happened to it and trying to open it would get you an error message. I have had our forum designer looking into the matter, but in the meantime, he was able to send it to me so I am posting it again..................................

I married Dick Rossi in 1966 when the battle with the 14th AF over the usage of the name Flying Tigers was in full swing. Most of what I know came from the lips of my husband, Tex Hill,  other members of the AVG, and written documents/letters.

Some folks like to say that the AVG was merged into the 14thAF. However, the 14th AF did not come on the scene in China until after the AVG had been disbanded for well over a year. There was no merging. If memory serves me, it was 5 pilots and 30 ground personnel that finally ended up in the 14thAF . While in China, the 14thAF were, at no time, named “Flying Tigers.” Everyone who was in China at the time knew that the when anyone mentioned Flying Tigers they were referring to the AVG. Tex stayed with Chennault throughout the war and he assured all who asked that at no time during the war or for years after ,was the Flying Tigers anyone but the AVG. When the war ended, folks came home and they started up the associations and holding reunions. Tex, Rode, JJ Harrington, and a few others who had ended up in the 14th AF with Chennault, went to those reunions. Dick Rossi was friends with many 14thAF men, was invited to their reunions and attended several. At that time they called themselves “The 14th Air Force Association” with a nick name of “China Hands”. They would get publicity in the local newspapers where the reunion was being held with the announcement that the “Flying Tigers” were in town. (They later used this as part of their justification for taking the name.)

It was in the middle 1950s that the 14thAF, at a business meeting, discussed renaming themselves The 14th Air Force Flying Tigers. Tex and the other members were highly offended and fought very hard against them claiming their name. The 14thAF president at that time, Lt. General Charles B. Stone, was against the proposal, as was General Bruce Holloway. Eventually a very vigorous group was able to get it voted through. Dick Rossi, as president of the AVG, wrote letters to them demanding they stop using the name. Chuck Older (18 ace AVG pilot, was then a lawyer - later a judge) wrote to them demanding they stop. Unfortunately, the AVG did not have the name trademarked. There were also members of the 14thAF who did not think it was right to take the name of the AVG and they voted with Tex. But there were up to 20,000 people who had been in and out of the 14th by the end of the war, so against the AVG 295 persons, there was a lot of pushing. Tex was a very popular man in both groups and when he threatened to quit the 14th AFA unless they gave it up, many sided with him. But not enough. Milt Miller was a bombardier in the 14th and was the editor of the “Jing Bao Journal,” their newsletter. He was a friend of Dick’s and told Dick he was against the appropriation and was campaigning against it. But Dick later read Milt’s endorsement of the plan in the Journal. They weren’t friends after that. It is very hard to resist such a famous, sexy, swashbuckling, legendary, name; especially when all your relatives and neighbors have come to think of you as the real deal. So Tex and others quit the 14th AF Association in protest.

According to R.T. Smith in his article in Air Classics magazine on this same subject (June 1988, vol.24.no 6 Who Were The Real Flying Tigers?), it was after Chennault’s death in 1958 that the 14th stepped up its campaign for the renaming. They started with “The 14th Air Force Association Flying Tigers”. But a few years later they changed it again to “The Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force Association”. I know this for a fact because we have their letters on file and were able to watch the change on their letterheads. I have scanned some of these, which will bear witness to the facts. In 1964 they still didn’t have the name changed on everything and were still calling themselves by the nickname “China Hands”(see scan). At an AVG reunion about 1966, the 14th  sent a representative to the reunion to try and patch things up. He was told in no uncertain terms that the only way was for them to stop using the name.

Tex said (to me) that he asked Chennault about the use of the name and the general told him that only the AVG were the Flying Tigers. I was told by Col. Henry Lee CAF, Chennault’s interpreter and long-time friend, that Chennault was very hurt over the split between the two groups. I asked Gen. Y.T. Low CAF if the 14th was called Flying Tigers during the war and he said positively not. As recently as 1997 General Bruce Holloway (4star) tried, at their business meeting, to have the name removed from the 14th AFA and was defeated.

Here is my personal take on the matter:
When it first was brought to my attention, I was as offended as any of the members of the AVG. Over time I have mellowed on my assessment of it (I think I got older also). I have met many 14th AFA members, have traveled with them in China, have been feted at banquets with them, and have called some of them my friends. They were out in China doing a job for the USA and China just as the AVG was. The Chinese don’t seem to notice the difference between the two (keep in mind that Mao Zedong wrote his own special Chinese history that was taught in schools and there was no mention of allies helping in WWII). That has all changed and if you just wear a jacket with a Flying Tigers insignia in China you will probably be asked for your autograph. There are now Chinese men in China who claim to be “Flying Tigers” and have formed their own organizations; I'm told there are over 20 such organizations all over China. The AVG has been swamped by the numbers and the lines have been blurred. I think all serious historians will be able to discover the differences. To many it doesn’t matter, but for some of us it does matter, as we have to live with all the blurring and the deep sixing of the true “Flying Tigers” honor.

I choose not to get my knickers in a knot over it, but I know what is right. 

Lydia Rossi
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Use of Flying Tiger name #2
LydiaRossi
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Posts: 295
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Widow of AVG pilot J. R. Rossi
Here are some of the responses to the above message.................

From Brad Smith:
Absent knotted knickers, I agree and applaud Lydia\'s description and analysis of the use of the Flying Tiger name.  I also wanted to mention for those that may look for R.T. Smith\'s article in the June 1988 issue of Air Classics that the September, October and November 1988 issues include many, many letters to the editor about the article that I believe people would find instructive.

From Bill C:
hank you Lydia. One should read R.T. Smith's and Erik Shilling's books, to 'hear' their views on the appropriation of the name 'Flying Tigers', to understand their feelings. One should appreciate that the AVG's battle against the Japanese was truly a David & Goliath situation. In addition, the pilots that the AVG faced were the cream of the crop. By 1944-45, the Japanese pilots were of an inferior quality. Many of the better, more experienced pilots had been lost through attrition. Less than 300 hundred Americans 'volunteered' to go in harm's way to face the might of the Japanese Air Force. Yes, they were well paid...but how much pay is worth risking your life, when you could be safe at home? They stand a little taller than those of the many thousand members of the later groups. Not to take away anything from the contributions of the CATF and the 14th AF....but they just did not face the same overwhelming odds as the AVG. No doubt that some would have performed as well as the members of the AVG....but it was the members of the AVG who took the opportunity to volunteer to go to China and defend the Burma Road....A matter of 'opportunity' that not everyone was privy to...by choice or by chance. By all accounts, the members of the AVG were a very special group, in a very unique situation....that some, no doubt, envied and admired. Who wouldn't want to be called "Flying Tiger"?


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Use of Flying Tiger name #2
aaatripp
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cousin of Maax C. Hammer, Jr., AVG 22Sep41 RIP
Hello AVG Forum members-----this topic is still of interest to all of us, in light of the continuing discussion on "what is a Flying Tiger".  Therefore, I'm bringing it back to current status for your reference.

Please read Lydia's detailed reply on this issue.  If you haven't seen this before it will enlighten you and you will now be aware of the chronology of this issue.

If you have further questions or comments please post them here....thanks!

Tripp


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Tripp

Tripp Alyn, chair
Historical & Museums Committee
AVG Flying Tigers Association
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Use of Flying Tiger name #2
aaatripp
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Post Group: Super Member
Posts: 596
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cousin of Maax C. Hammer, Jr., AVG 22Sep41 RIP
Any of you who want an additional reference source, please click the link below to hear Don Lopez explain the Use of the Flying Tiger Name.

He was an ace in the 23rd Fighter Group, flying with the 75th Fighter Squadron TIGER SHARKS commanded by David Lee "Tex" Hill following disbandment of the AVG on 4 July 1842.  Before his death in 2008, Don Lopez had been the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Please refer to the time hack at 1:42

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guT-KOlup7s


Any questions?
Tripp


Tripp Alyn, chair
Historical & Museums Committee
Flying Tigers Association


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Tripp

Tripp Alyn, chair
Historical & Museums Committee
AVG Flying Tigers Association
IP: --   

Use of Flying Tiger name #2
aaatripp
Group: Moderator
Post Group: Super Member
Posts: 596
Status:

cousin of Maax C. Hammer, Jr., AVG 22Sep41 RIP
Greetings AVG Forum readers-----we're bringing this thread back for those who have been discussing this topic recently at the various Facebook AVG-Flying Tigers pages.

Thanks for your interest!

Tripp


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Tripp

Tripp Alyn, chair
Historical & Museums Committee
AVG Flying Tigers Association
IP: --   

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