The Ministry of National Defense held celebrations yesterday to commemorate the military cooperation between the ROC (Republic of China) and the US during World War II.
The celebrations, which marked the 70th anniversary of an air raid by an ROC-US air squad, took place at the Hsinchu Air Force Base, which was the location of the air strike operated by the Flying Tigers against Japanese forces. At that time, Taiwan was a colony of Japan.
The air strike on Nov. 25, 1943, was planned by US military aviator Claire Chennault. The joint US and ROC squads forged a strong friendship between the two countries and helped lay the foundation for the modern ROC air force, the air force said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who attended yesterday’s event, praised the results of the joint mission, which destroyed at least 42 Japanese military planes.
“The mission was a setback to the Japanese forces,” he said. “It also boosted the morale of our military.”
Since the war against Japan in the 1940s, Taiwan has established military cooperation with the US, Ma said.
“Today, we still maintain close cooperation on security matters with the US,” he added.
The joint mission was a major part of the military cooperation between the two countries, Air Force Commander General Liu Chen-wu (劉震武) said.
The Flying Tigers consisted of a group of US volunteer aviators that Chennault recruited to help the ROC combat Japanese forces in P-40 “Warhawk” single-propeller planes.
Formally called the US Volunteer Group at its inception, it later transformed into the China Air Task Force, 14th Air Force, and Chinese-US Composite Wing. After the US airmen left, the ROC pilots became the backbone of the country’s air force.
Also attending the event yesterday were former Flying Tigers pilots and Nell Calloway, Chennault’s granddaughter and head of the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum in the US.
Calloway said it was an honor to participate in the event and felt proud to represent the legacy of her grandfather.
“I think my grandfather is here with us in spirit today and very proud of what’s going on,” said Calloway, who is visiting Taiwan for the first time and will wrap up the seven-day trip tomorrow.
The event started with a performance by the military honor guard and air force marching band, followed by a flyover of Mirage 2000-5 jet fighters and AT-3s from the Thunder Tiger Aerobatics Team.
A Mirage fighter pilot also demonstrated a series of aerial skills, such as inverted flying and rotations, wowing an audience of hundreds. The Hsinchu airbase is home to Taiwan’s Mirage fighters, one of the country’s main combat aircraft.
An exhibition of photos, relics and even a combat flight simulator started on Friday.
It will run through March 31 next year at the Armed Forces Museum in Taipei.