Redstone Report: Flying Tigers visit arsenal

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The Fixed Wing Project Office on Redstone Arsenal now has new colors, unveiled at an uncasing ceremony a few weeks ago. In the audience were three of the four remaining members of the "Flying Tigers."

The "Flying Tigers" were the first American volunteer group for the Chinese Air Force. With the permission of Franklin D. Roosevelt, they trained Chinese pilots before WWII. Ed Stiles is now in his 90's and is one of the surviving members of the group. "Prior to being a volunteer, we were with the Army" Stiles said.

252 men signed up for a year of service with the group. They spent part of 1941 and 1942 in  Burma, flying and maintaining P-40 Warhawks. Stiles said it was an experience he will never forget. The mission was to help train the Chinese to defend themselves against Japanese forces. Stiles remembered, "Bombs were dropping all around us, but we were happy to do what we could do."

Officially, the "Flying Tigers" were credited with destroying three hundred enemy aircrafts. Unofficially, there were hundreds more. Stiles said, "Every fight that we were in, we were totally outnumbered."

Seventy-two years later, Stiles looked back with no regrets, saying, "I'm not sorry that I was over there and did what I could."

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