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US airman who 'fell in love with the Chinese people'

Updated: 2024-01-01 10:08 ( China Daily )
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Flying Tiger veterans Mel McMullen (second from left), 98, and Harry Moyer (third from left), 103, visit Chongqing Stilwell Museum in Chongqing in November.[Photo provided by Zhou Yi/China News Service]

Blood and bond

Ahead of speaking to China Daily, Long unfolded two flags confiscated from the then Imperial Japanese Army. Tainted with blood, the flags have some Japanese letters scribbled on them.

Over the years, Long heard from many veteran fliers associated with his father. "They saw what was happening in China, and the aggression, the atrocities and so forth ...They were so proud that they were able to have an effect on the war," he said.

Long said President Xi Jinping's view that "the foundation of China-US relations lies among the people "makes eminent sense.

"I've traveled a fair amount in my life around the world and never to China before, but what I find is that all the people are of the same mindset. They are trying to live a nice life, they are trying to raise their family, and they are trying to live freely," he said.

"The more the people are in touch with each other, the more we realize that we're all the same, we all want the same things, and I think that can really turn the tide."

He noted the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation has been carrying out the Flying Tigers Youth Leadership Program and signing up sister high schools from both countries.

"We are trying to recruit schools in the United States to be part of the student program and I'm in touch with my father's school in Pennsylvania," he said, adding he also wants to involve the school of his grandson Jackson Long in the program.

He stressed that "children don't have a preconceived concept of anything".

"If young people are exposed to each other around the world, they are going to realize that they are the same, they have the same interests, they want to do the same things, and I think that helps to avoid conflict," he said.

Also in the delegation was Long Junior's 15-year-old grandson Jackson, a 10th-grade student and an avid member of his high school golf team.

Long said his grandson is a good listener when it comes to the Flying Tigers' stories and memories.

"I really wanted to bring him in here, so that he could see for himself rather than just reading in books or watching whatever about China. He could see China for real.

"In just a couple of days, he could understand the mission. He understands communication needs to happen to improve relations."

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