Mount Pleasant News

Mount Pleasant, IA

28 Jul 1945




Miles Finds Gen. Chenault Busy But Willing To Give Interview

By Frank Miles

Kumming, China (IDPA) -- Maj. Gen. C.L. Chenault, commanding officer of the 14th air force has been portrayed in the press and radio of the United States as a slashing, fighting man but with little as to his human side and his grasp of world conditions and his vision of the future.

The general was tremendously busy but he readily consented to receive your reporter through arrangements made by the headquarters relations chief. General Chennault, a Texan by birth and a Louisianan by residence, 54 years of age, began his adult career as a school teacher in Louisiana. He entered the army as an infantryman in 1917, transferred to the aviation section and was in that branch until he was retired for psychical disability as a major in 1937. In that year he, as a civilian, accepted the invitation from Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, of China, to survey the Chinese Air Force. He remained in China until 1940 when he returned home to form the American volunteer group. In July 1940 he received 100 P-40 planes with which to strike the Japanese air force in China and it was through his leadership of the "Flying Tigers" that he hit the headlines often.

Good Record

On April 3, 1942, he was recalled to active duty with the rank of colonel in the American Army and on the following July 4 he was made commander of the China air task force of the 10th air force, which marked dissolution of the American volunteer group. On March 10, 1943, the China Air Task Force became the 14th air force. Chennault was promoted to brigadier general and later to major general.

The 14th air force has made and is making a remarkable record despite obstacles arising from weather and the difficulties of obtaining adequate equipment and supplies. Roads here are poor, railways few, river craft scarce and flying is be done over long distances with heavy hazards. The general's men are not fed or billeted as were the personnel of the air forces in the European and Mediterranean theaters.

Their PX stocks are puny compared with some in and close to the American mainland but they don't gripe about it.

General Chennault is idolized by his officers and men. He is appreciative of what they do and lets them know his feelings without ostentation. He welcomes ideas. He keeps complete control of his emotions and never uses a profane or vulgar word.

Will Live Underground

"If we don't outlaw war we shall all be living underground," he said from his study of the development of engines and weapons of destruction from 1917 to 1945. He can see that if another war is fought in the next few years bombs, rockets, planes and other devices will be invented that will menace all the people of any nation engaged.

The general is no peace-at-any-price pacifist or is any one of five sons in uniform. He believes, though, that government could settle their disputes in peaceful ways. He knows what the cost will be if they don't.

The Chinese admire and respect Chennault and he likes and admired them.

"They are good-natured, hard-working and jealous of their rights," he asserted. "They seek no conquest but they will fight to the death in defense of their land and their homes. The Japanese have been led to think they are the greatest people in the world and should rule the word."

Wants Strong China

The general wants the Chinese to be strong and self-reliant after the Japanese are beaten. A powerful, peaceful loving country will long be need in Asia.

"The Chinese are very brave and they are reckless in the air," he said. In the attack on Hankow some of their pilots were killed when they dove down so low they struck revetments."

Chennault's lined face shows he has seen much war but smiles easily and his voice is deeply sympathetic when he speaks of Americans who have made the supreme sacrifice fighting American enemies. He appears every inch a splendid soldier. His quiet, wise words gave me the firm conviction that he is a statesman, too.

Source: Mount Pleasant News, July 28, 1945

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