An exhibition on WWII efforts of the Chinese, US and former Soviet Union air forces against Japan opened in Beijing on Thursday, sponsored jointly by the Memorial Hall of the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the Beijing Aviation Club.
"I have flown this kind of airplane," said 85-year-old Peng Jiaheng, who fought in the Flying Tigers from 1944 to 1945, pointing at a photographic exhibit.
"I don't think I'm a hero. I think I was only an ordinary soldier in the war against Japanese aggression. Those who sacrificed their lives were true heroes," he said, "Once I call them into remembrance, I think it's so difficult to win back peace. We should cherish peace."
Five Chinese members of the US Air Force's Flying Tigers brigade attended the opening ceremony.
According to Li Yu, head of Beijing Aviation Club, this is the first time that the history of the Chinese air force has been displayed in detail. "We hope to remember the dead and leave historical evidence for future generations."
"I am honored to be with Chinese veterans who fought for the anti-Japanese war," Colonel Leroy M. Coleman, US Air Force Air Attaché at the US Embassy in Beijing said at the opening ceremony.
"A large part of what we have today is because of those courageous men and women. Hostility is temporary whereas friendship is eternal," Coleman said.
"We fought together against enemies 60 years ago and we have always been friends," said Colonel Sergey V. Netkach, Air Attaché from the Defense Attaché Office, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Beijing.
At the six-part show, more than 220 historic photos, a dozen aircraft models and more than 20 pieces of cultural relics have been exhibited.
The US Air Force and Soviet Union Air Force volunteer pilot groups fought with the Chinese air force from 1937 to 1945. A total of 3,292 pilots died during the war, of whom 2,186 were American, 236 Russian and 870 Chinese.
At least 5,242 Japanese planes were shot down or damaged, 8,177 vessels and 8,456 tanks and military vehicles destroyed, and 660,000 Japanese soldiers killed by the combined air forces.
(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2005)