Press Release (09/14/11): Museum of Chinese in America to host program with “Chennault’s Flying Tigers”

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[New York, NY] September 14, 2011 – The very name “Flying Tigers” recalls the feats of heroism during World War II when a celebrated military unit of over 2,500 Chinese Americans recruited by retired U.S. Army Air Corps Officer, Claire L. Chennault flew fighter jets over Japanese occupied China. Filling the sky with shark jawed P-40s, these pilots “flew the Hump” and remote air bases like Luliang and Chungking in one of the most complex regions of the war. This year marks the 68th Anniversary of the formation of the 14th Air Service Group and 987th Signal Company, an elite squadron of the U.S. military which began as a group of American volunteers in support of the Chinese Air Force and which was charged with defending China against Japanese forces.

In the 1940s, as thousands of GI’s came through New York on their way to Europe and Asia at the height of the Second World War, the Chinese American community contributed heavily to the war effort by rationing supplies, buying thousands of dollars of war bonds, and enlisting their young men and women in the Armed Forces. At one point, more than 2,500 of these young Chinese Americans had joined the “Flying Tigers,” which was largely the creation of Claire L. Chennault, who had served as military aviation advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the early months of the Sino-Japanese War and as director of a Chinese Air Force flight school in Kunming. The veterans have shared their stories through three books, In the Shadow of the Tiger, The Histories of the 14th Air Service Group, and American Paper Son, as well as the oral histories and documents that are now part of Veterans Oral History Project at the Library of Congress.

On Thursday, September 22nd at 6:30pm, MOCA will host a moderated discussion with several veterans on their wartime experiences. In attendance will be E Len, aged 87, who spent his entire career at NBC Studios from the golden age of live TV through Saturday Night Live; Mack Pong, aged 91, who worked as a delivery man in the U.S. military postal service; Richard Y. Wong, aged 87, who immigrated from China to Minneapolis-St. Paul at 9 years-old where he worked 24 hours a day in his father’s restaurant; Harry Lim, aged 86, a retired historian specializing in Chinese and Chinese American history; and Wing Lai, aged 86, whose two siblings also served in the famous Air Force units of WWII. The event is part of MOCA’s Target Free Thursdays open to the public. In addition, in partnership with the New-York Historical Society, MOCA will conduct oral history interviews with the veterans in an ongoing institutional effort to collect stories of the Chinese American experience.

“This September, MOCA celebrates the bravery and patriotism of Chinese Americans in the U.S. Military, which have fed countless bedtime stories for so many of us as children,” said Jessica Chao, Interim Director of the Museum. “We are proud to collaborate with the 14th Air Service Group, the 987th Signal Company, as well as New-York Historical Society to bring the story of the Flying Tigers to the broader public and to preserve it for future generations through oral histories. This complements our core exhibition With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America.”


About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is the leading national museum dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and culture of people of Chinese descent in the United States. From its Maya Lin-designed home on the border of Chinatown and SoHo in New York City at 215 Centre Street, MOCA collects and displays historical and cultural artifacts, and organizes traveling exhibitions, classes, discussions, and events that explore all aspects of the Chinese American experience in the United States. MOCA began as a community-based organization founded in 1980, has evolved into a national keeper of cultural information and an influential voice in the ongoing history of Chinese and Chinese American culture across the country. The Museum’s original location at 70 Mulberry Street, currently the Collections and Research Center, is in the heart of Chinatown on the second floor of the historic, century-old school building that was once Public School 23. For more information, visit

Monday: 11am-5pm
Thursday: 11am-9pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-5pm
The Museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for prescheduled group tours and special programs.

General Admission: $7
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Students (w/school ID): $4
Children under 12 in groups less than 8: Free
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Target Free Thursdays: Free gallery admission every Thursday through the generosity of Target.

MOCA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization supported by its members, individual donors, and by public and private funds.