Flying Tigers, part 2, to inspire donations for voice-command laptops for newly disabled soldiers

by CynthiaYockey on October 31, 2009

I have more details now on my Uncle Donald Yockey’s service during World War II. He volunteered for the Army Air Corps on May 26, 1941, and served as a crew chief in the 529th squadron of the 311th group in the 14th Air Force, which was designated the Flying Tigers, led by Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault. He worked on P-51 fighters. He was not in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) known as the Flying Tigers, which flew P-40’s. By the way, the P-40’s were painted with a tiger shark grin filled with sharp teeth, but the press left out the “shark” and called them the Flying Tigers. However, Disney designed their logo with a tiger instead of a shark.

The U.S. Air Force’s fact sheet on the 14th Air Force is here:

The Creation of the 14th Air Force

The China Air Task Force continued as the “Flying Tigers” under the command of Brigadier General Chennault. After the China Air Task Force was discontinued, the 14th Air Force was established by the special order of President Roosevelt on 10 March 1943. Chennault was appointed the commander and promoted to Major General. The “Flying Tigers” of 14th AF (who adopted the “Flying Tigers” designation from the AVG) conducted highly effective fighter and bomber operations along a wide front that stretched from the bend of the Yellow River and Tsinan in the north to Indochina in the south, from Chengtu and the Salween River in the west to the China Sea and the island of Formosa in the east. They were also instrumental in supplying Chinese forces through the airlift of cargo across “The Hump” in the China-Burma-India theater.

By the end of World War II, 14th AF had achieved air superiority over the skies of China and established a ratio of 7.7 enemy planes destroyed for every American plane lost in combat. Overall, military officials estimated that over 4,000 Japanese planes were destroyed or damaged in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II. In addition, they estimated that air units in China destroyed 1,100,000 tons of shipping, 1,079 locomotives, 4,836 trucks and 580 bridges. The United States Army Air Corps credits 14 AF with the destruction of 2,315 Japanese aircraft, 356 bridges, 1,225 locomotives and 712 railroad cars.

Aunt Yolanda could not remember how to spell the name of the place in China where Uncle Donald was, but from the way she pronounced the name I think it was Tsinan.

I found more great information on the 14th Air Force here, which includes the most complete list I’ve found so far of its component units. It concludes as follows:

The outstanding accomplishments of the AVG [American Volunteer Group] and the CATF [China Air Task Force], along with the Flying Tigers logo, were inherited by the Fouteenth, along with General Chennault’s thorough knowledge of enemy tactics, his experience at countering those tactics and the experienced, effective ching pao air raid notifcation system.

During the next fourteen months it would grow to four fighter groups, two bomb groups, a photo recon squadron and a troop carrier squadron.

We believe that Kenn C. Rust & Stephen Muth best sum up the Fourteenth’s activities in their book, Fourteenth Air Force Story. Quoting from pages 10 & 11 of that book:

“The mission of the Fourteenth in the days to come — based in part on policies evolved by the CATF — would be sixfold:

  1. To defend its own lifelines over the Hump;
  2. To ferret out and destroy Japanese aircraft and troop concentrations;
  3. To destroy the enemy’s military and naval installations in China;
  4. To smash and disrupt Japanese shipping along the China coast and beyond and on the numerous inland waterways of China;
  5. To destroy enemy supplies and military installations in Indochina, Thailand, Burma and Formosa;
  6. To encourage Chinese resistance and provide all possible aerial support to their ground forces.

“To accomplish this ambitious mission, Chennault would take advantage of his interior positions, strategically located air bases spotted within a semi-circle stretching from before Ichang to Hankow and down to Canton and Hong Kong, with the Japanese concentrated around the rim of the semi-circle or beyond. Theoretically, such a battle position gave tactical advantage to the Fourteenth and, given an appreciable quantity of planes, men and supplies, Chennault could have blasted the enemy out of China. Since such was not the case, however, Chennault had to rely on jabbing tactics to cause the Japanese as much damage and confusion as limited supplies would permit.”

“Indeed the story of supply is to a great extent the story of the AAF in China, as the supply problem set the China Theater apart from all others, limiting activity and sometimes even stopping it completely. Every item necessary to maintain and operate an air force had to be flown into China along the 500 mile air ferry route from India over the towering Himalaya Mountains where bad weather and enemy action were a constant threat to success. The situation was such that the Fourteenth never received more than 15,000 tons of supplies a month and, up to mid-1944, often less than half that amount. Therefore, its limited forces were never more than sustained at full operational strength and often they suffered telling shortages of equipment and personnel.”

“Yet, despite such limitations, the Fourteenth managed to conduct effective fighter and bomber operations along a vast front during its operational life — from the bend of the Yellow River and Tsinan in the north to Indochina in the south, from Chengtu and the Salween River in the west to the China Sea and the island of Formosa in the east.”

All in all, a very limited number of planes and men, under the most difficult of conditions, had placed the Fourteenth Air Force in the ranks of great military organizations.

Aunt Yolanda says sometimes they were so strapped for parts and supplies that they had to use chewing gum and tape to make repairs to the fighter planes.

OK, now here’s the deal about the fundraising drive for Project Valour IT — we are raising money for laptop computers with voice-activated software for soldiers whose injuries have cost them the use of their hands, or who are brain-damaged. The money raised also will buy Wii game consoles and games to be used at Veteran’s Administration rehab facilities. Because Wii games use the entire body and are fun, they motivate soldiers to learn the new skills they need to replace the abilities they have lost.

This equipment is a bridge back to life for soldiers who have become disabled fighting for our American ideals, our liberty and our national security. Please look to your right for the donation widget, click on it to reach the donation page and give generously to send these soldiers the message that you are grateful for their service and stand by them to give them the tools they need now to live fulfilling, meaningful and productive lives.

Thank you.

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Greyhawk November 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Hey, thanks for joining Team Air Force for this! Glad to have you on board.
.-= Greyhawk´s last blog .."Rugged Air Force vet" wins NY23 =-.

Cassandra November 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Fantastic post, Cynthia! I love the family history!

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