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Former 'Flying Tigers' Visit Nanjing Memorial Cemetery

A group of "V60 Tracking the History of the American Flying Tiger" to China, including 15 former American "Flying Tigers", visited the Nanjing Memorial Cemetery to Anti-Japanese Aviator Martyrs in this capital of east China's Jiangsu Province on Wednesday.

They presented a basket of flowers to the martyrs and searched names of their comrades-in-arms in the war of resistance to Japan from the list of the martyrs on a monument at the cemetery.

On August 1,1941, American Volunteer Group (AVG), nicknamed Flying Tigers afterwards, was formed. After a brief period of intensive training, they flied to China. On Dec. 20 in the first air combat, they downed 6 enemy bombers and damaged 4.

In the ensuing half year, the Flying Tigers fought more than 100 combats, shooting down 272 enemy aircraft and destroying another 225 on the ground, which earned them great appreciation and praises.

The Nanjing Memorial Cemetery to the Anti-Japanese Aviator Martyrs was built in 1930s, in which more than 3,000 pilots from China, the former Soviet Union and the United States were buried, who laid down their lives in China's resistance war against Japanese aggressors during the World War II. The total included more than 2,000 American pilots.

Joseph Hart, who was a member of the Flying Tigers, is now 86 years old. He said he came to China in 1943 and, on August 24 that year, in one mission, they shot down more than 40 Japanese planes. He was injured in the face during the combat, and was rescued by a young Chinese girl. "Today I was very gloomy, for 60 of my comrade-in-arms were buried here," he said.

Harold Javitt, another former Flying Tiger, said, "I was very shocked here today. But I felt happy for the friendship between China and the United States."

Wang Jian, deputy head of an aviation club in Nanjing, said, "American aviators contributed tremendously to China's war of resistance against Japanese aggression, and we Chinese people will remember them forever."

(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2005)

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