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US Veterans Revisit Yunnan WWII Battlefields

More than 70 US veterans who flew the Hump route or fought in China during WWII arrived with their families in Kunming, capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan, on Thursday to commemorate victory in the war.

"Nobody wins in war, too many were killed. Peace is the best thing we can have, and I'm just glad for having helped to achieve it, and for the appreciation of the Chinese people," said Alfred Gallup, who served in the 10th Air Force and flew over the Himalayas 35 times.

He was awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Medal and the Asian-Pacific Medal for bringing fuel and ammunition into China.

"I always wish I could walk where he fought. Maybe I really can," said his 84-year-old wife who stood up from her wheelchair with much effort to wait for her husband while he was fetching their luggage at Kunming Airport.

Sixty years ago her husband was a 30-year-old pilot from Kansas and they have returned to China to mark yesterday's 60th anniversary of the end of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and WWII.

Opened in 1942, the 500-mile Hump route began in the northern Indian state of Assam, and passed over the Himalayas to southwest China. As the major air passage connecting China and the Allied Forces, the hazardous route saw the loss of more than 1,500 pilots and 500 planes from US and Chinese air forces.

"I made 65 round trips over the Hump, bringing everything imaginable from Assam to 12 Chinese cities and air bases, and Kunming was the place I came to most frequently," said Mel Hodell, 84.

"The visiting group consists of veterans from nine organizations, including the Flying Tigers and the 14th Air Force Association, the Hump Pilots' Association, the China-Burma-India Association and others," said the reunion's organizers.

On Monday afternoon, the veterans and their families joined local people to attend a ceremony hosted by the Yunnan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

During their 4-day stay in Yunnan, they will lay floral tributes at the Hump Monument in Kunming and revisit former battlefields like Baoshan and Shangri-la.

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2005)

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