•  Mr. Speaker, on March 28, China will open the doors to a new museum in Chongqing. The museum will be dedicated to a group of American fighter pilots and heroes. The group was originally calledthe American Volunteer Group, though they are now famously referred to as the Flying Tigers .
  • Known for the shark face art on the nose of their planes, the Flying Tigers were a group of volunteers that fought alongside the Chinese in their defense against the Japanese at the beginning of World War II. Thegroup was formed by Claire Chennault, a retired U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant General from Commerce, Texas, with permission from President Roosevelt himself. The Flying Tigers were comprised of over 100 pilots who hailed from the United States Army Air Corps, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.
  • Before the creation of the Flying Tigers , Chennault was in China working as an aviation advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and as the director of a Chinese Air Force flight school in Kunming. In 1941, Chiang Kai-Shek sent Chennault to Washington to obtain a war-time loan and some fighter planes, but Chennault came back with much more than that.
  • With directions from the President and in accordance with the Generalissimo, Chennault headed out to recruit pilots to volunteer with him in China. Since the United States was not yet at war, this all had to be done discreetly.
  • These brave men were secretly discharged from their respective units and sent to Burma for training. Within four months, the Flying Tigers were dropped into the battlefield and instantly made a name for themselves.
  • One of the most famous Tigers was David Lee Hill, known by his comrades as ``Tex,'' due to his South Texas heritage. He's remembered as a hero, both in China and back home. He joined the Flying Tigers in 1941, and was credited with destroying over ten Japanese fighter planes in just his first battle in January of 1942. A couple of months after, Tex was officially named squadron leader, where he began planning for his new position and upcoming missions.
  • On May 7th, 1942, the Japanese began building a bridge across the Salween River that would allow them to easily move troops and supplies into China. However, much to the chagrin of the Japanese, Chennault and Tex learned of their plan. Tex led a flight to the river with the intention of blocking Japanese advancement, and the plan proved successful. According to Chennault, this was one of the most critical missions the FlyingTigers would go on to accomplish.
  • In July of 1942, after many successful combat missions, the Flying Tigers were disbanded. Though they're remembered for their successes and heroic air battles, their success came with a price. Lacking resources that typical U.S. air corps had, such as doctors, nurses, fresh food, and maintenance personnel, the Flying Tigers were constantly facing setbacks. Wounds were rarely properly treated and the threat of disease was constant. Sixteen Flying Tigers gave their lives in 1941 and 1942, though not before taking out nearly 300 Japanese aircrafts.
  • After the deactivation, Tex, and five other former Flying Tigers , officially rejoined the United States Army Air Force. On Thanksgiving of 1943, Tex led troops into Formosa where they were heavily outnumbered by theJapanese. Against all odds, his squadron returned home unscathed, despite having downed over 40 Japanese planes.
  • Tex left active duty in 1946, but joined the Air Force Reserves shortly after, where he would serve until his retirement in 1968 as a brigadier general. His career will go down as one of the most impressive in United States military history. He's been inducted into both the National and Texas Aviation Hall of Fames, and has received numerous awards from both the United States and China.
  • Tex and his fellow Flying Tigers , such as Claire Chennault, will go down in history as one of the most selfless and heroic service groups in United States military history. They went to war when they didn't have to, to defend a country to which they held no allegiance. The selfless acts of the Flying Tigers will forever be remembered, and their duty, honor, and character should help guide Americans for years to come.
  • It's no surprise that many of those feisty, tenacious volunteers were from Texas. They would have made the defenders of the Alamo proud.
  • And that's just the way it is.