By Diao Haiyang
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (ChinaMil) -- The visiting Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe met with Flying Tigers' veterans and their relatives in Washington on Saturday. Wei said that Chinese people will never forget their old comrades-in-arms and old friends, and the China-US friendship will stand the test of time and distance.
The US participants in the meeting included veteran pilot Jay Vineyard of the "Hump Route", Neil Calloway, granddaughter of Claire Lee Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers, Richard Cole, son of Durit Raider Pilot Richard Cole, and Larry Kelly, member of the Durit Bombers Association.
During the meeting, Wei spoke highly of the great sacrifices made by the veterans of the Flying Tigers squadron for the cause of safeguarding world peace, safeguarding their country and relatives.
The Chinese people will never forget their old comrades-in-arms and old friends, will never forget those friends who have helped China, will never forget the heroes who have sacrificed for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, and will never forget old comrades-in-arms who fought against fascist alongside China. The friendship between the two nations will always stand the test of time and distance, said Wei.
Wei said that the Chinese people and the American people love and cherish peace. It is because they went through the war together and shared the sufferings caused by war. In retrospect, both China and the US played a key role in the world anti-fascist war and made tremendous contributions.
Wei said that China and the US shoulder important responsibilities in maintaining world peace and have broad prospects for cooperation. China is willing to work with the US side to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation and let the people of both countries lead a peaceful and happy life, said Wei.
Wei also welcomed the Flying Tigers' veterans and their relatives to visit China and return to the place where they used to fight. Wei said to the Flying Tigers' veterans: “Please accept my highest respect as a soldier. Tomorrow (November 11) is the Veterans Day in the United States,and I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere wishes to you.”
Vineyard, 95, recalled his flying experience of the "Hump Route". He said that during the World War II, he and his comrades overcame various extreme hazardous weather conditions and wounded its way into the high Himalayas to Yunnan, Sichuan and other places to transport supplies. Many of his comrades died in the mission and remained in China forever.
He said that he feels proud of himself and his comrades, and takes pride in that the US and China fought shoulder to shoulder in the war. He hoped the two countries can maintain their friendship and continue to deepen cooperation.
Vineyard said that it will be a great comfort to their families if China can find the remains of their comrades-in-arms. Wei said that China will do its utmost to find the remains of the missing US military pilots.
The "Hump Route" was launched to transport military supplies to China by Allies' pilots in World War II and was seen as China’s Aerial Lifeline. The Hump operation lasted the longest air transport route, under the worst flying condition in the history of world war air transport.
563 American aircraft crashed or disappeared and over 1,500 lives of Chinese and American crew members were lost during the mission. China and the US have maintained good cooperation on the search for the remains of Americans missing from the war since the 1970s.
Calloway told reporters on the same day that she was grateful to the Chinese people for always remembering the Flying Tigers because of its historical significance. Calloway said that she felt very positive about the future of bilateral relations and the relations between the two armed forces after listening to the introduction of the second China-US Diplomatic and Security Dialogue and the meeting between Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and the US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
She believed that the US and China should continuously strengthen exchanges, deepen friendship, and promote the continuous development of this important bilateral relationship.