Files and images about the American Volunteer Group commanded by Claire Chennault. The AVG Flying Tigers defended Burma and China with their shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks in the opening months of the Pacific War, December 1941 - July 1942.

Tales of the Flying Tigers


Goodbye, Tiger Yee!

Tiger Yee A year or three ago, we celebrated "Tiger Yee," an immigrant American high-school teacher near Denver, Colorado, who had worked as translator for the American Volunteer Group in Kunming. At left, a young-looking John Hua Yee posed at Wings Over the Rockies museum on Memorial Day 2012. He was 90 then, and 97 when he died at the end of March.

Born in 1927, he was raised by an English missionary couple, educated in Hong Kong, and journeyed to Kunming to work as part of Chennault's early warning network. I can't discover when this came about, but it was probably after the AVG moved back from Rangoon to Kunming. (He would have been 15 at that time.) As the story is told, he "worked in radio control, translating messages from farmers who spotted Japanese planes and plotting their locations on a grid to determine when and where they might attack." That isn't exactly how the network functioned, but it's close enough. He continued to do this work in the days of the China Air Task Force, but in 1943 he came to the United States to translate for the Chinese aviation cadets sent to this country for advanced flight training. Postwar, he was allowed to stay, and he became a citizen in 1952.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees, and in 1956 began to teach history and Chinese in Denver-area schools. One of his students was a lad named Mike Coffman, later elected to the US Congress, where he read a tribute to Mr Yee into the Congressional Record.

Tiger Yee is survived by his second wife, a son, three grandsons, a granddaughter, four great-grandsons, two great-granddaughters, and probably by dozens of his former students -- a legacy to be proud of.

Updated -- This just in from Roland Mar:

Long ago when the world was new [late 1960's], John Yee was the teacher of the first classes in Asian History and Geography in the Aurora Public Schools, at Aurora Central High School. I had the good fortune to be in his classes, was a member of the International Relations Club, of which he was the faculty sponsor, and he taught Mandarin dialect of Chinese on extension at Denver University at night and I took those classes [our home dialect was Cantonese]. In high school, he held us to college standards and the first college format paper I ever did was in my junior year of high school for him. I am sad to hear of his loss, and honored to have studied under him. The standards he held me to helped make my avocation/second career [first was as a Peace Officer] of being a writer for military journals and now online possible.

Honoring Percy Bartelt

A third of a century after his death in 1986, Percy Bartelt was awarded the Order of the Resplendent Banner, one of Taiwan's highest military awards, last month at the Air Museum in Fargo, North Dakota. Bartelt was one of 19 AVG Flying Tigers credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat. He quit the AVG in March 1942 and thus received a "dishonorable discharge" from Chennault, depriving him of the veterans' benefits and Silver Star that were later awarded to those who stayed with the group to the end, regardless of their combat experience. Well, better late than never. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

A 'Special Air Unit' for China:

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

The Tigers forge a legend:

The P-40 files:

The Bill Pawley files:

The Lady and the Tigers

Books, movies, comics:

A good myth never dies: