Legendary Flying Tigers nurse, nonagenarian

Here’s another really interesting person. I think many people remember the movie and hearing of the exploits, especially during the 50s and 60s when there was just the one (Good) China and that other, Red. China The Flying Tigers became a freight service, post-war, and then merged into FedEX covert CIA Air America

Rita Wong , nonagenarian Rita Wong, 2006

BEIJING, June 7 (Reuters) – A legendary Chinese nurse who cared for injured U.S. Flying Tigers airmen during World War Two and suffered beatings during the Cultural Revolution has died at 95, state media said on Thursday…

The Flying Tigers was the nickname for the American Volunteer Group that formed a fighter group that trained in China and defended the Burma supply line to China over the Himalayas known as the “Hump” before the United States entered the war.

At the beginning of the last century, when most Chinese girls married in their teens and stayed at home afterwards, Wong, also known as Huang Huanxiao, decided that she should receive an education and become a professional, the China Daily said…. She had just finished her course in nursing and started her internship at a hospital in Hong Kong, when Japanese troops attacked and took over on Christmas Day, 1941.

“She died with a smile, just like her Chinese name suggests – it translates into joy and smile,” Xinhua news agency quoted Gao Demin, Wong’s eldest son, as saying.


from China Daily August 15, 2006–

Rita Wong, who escaped the Japanese in Hong Kong to join the Flying Tigers in China, had lived in anonymity in Kunming, capital of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, for the past six decades, the China Daily said…

The woman from Macao, who got her degree in nursing at the University of Hong Kong in 1941, had lived in anonymity in Kunming, capital of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, for the past six decades.

Wong’s children didn’t even guess how eventful her life used to be until she and her husband, who was the only Chinese doctor at the hospital, took them to the Hump Flight Monument in the suburbs of Kunming one day in 1989… With a hunched back, which was broken in beatings during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), she read out the inscriptions in a firm voice and a graceful British accent.

In 2002 that she began to write down her memories in a diary, which she initially kept to herself. But in 2004, the 92-year-old learned from media reports that several Flying Tigers were to visit their old airport in Yunnanyi town in the mountains of Yunnan’s Dali. She told her children that she wanted to go and meet them.

[Wong and her husband] stated to work at a local hospital after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949… They had a happy life in the following years, apart from during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76). The couple had two sons and a daughter.

When China opened its doors to the rest of the world at the end of the 1970s, Wong set up a toy factory in Macao at an age of 67 with funding from her sisters sent from overseas.

She became the general manager and had more than 200 people working for her three years later.

Read the rest of her story here http://www.china.org.cn/english/NM-e/177978.htm

Actually, all of Chinese and Chinese-American modern history (late 19th and the 20th century) is interesting. I wish we were more aware of the pre-Nixon stuff (Pacific Rim and California, Sun Yat-sen; but for the political junkies– all the Washington intrigues with Madame Chennault; Formosa or Taiwan; one China or two; Vietnam; those two little islands and WW III, etc.).

[Much of the Chinese significance in US history is little understood, e.g.,

Irvin Lai of the historical society and one of the most vocal critics of the MTA’s handling of the situation, said he hoped the remains and artifacts would not be rushed back into the ground. He laments that no major academic institution has volunteered to conduct a study… “We have very little history of these sojourners in Southern California,” he said. “We need a lot of study. We need a professional person. We want to know how they lived, because we have very little records. Most just died and were thrown into graves.”

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1 Response to “Legendary Flying Tigers nurse, nonagenarian”

  1. 1 vuee 2008 February 20 at 8:17 am

    “Wed, 20 Feb ’08
    “The Greatest Show On Turf” Will Honor AVG, And Their P-40s

    The 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum told ANN this week its theme for the 2008 Geneseo Airshow, planned for July 11-13 — “The Greatest Show on Turf.” This year also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, and it is the intention of the 1941 HAG to celebrate this anniversary by honoring the people and planes who made this aircraft one of the most famous and widely recognized of World War II, through hosting a Flying Tigers Reunion.

    This event could possibly be the most talked about aviation event of 2008 due to its unique subject. With over 13,700 Curtiss P-40s of various models built between October 1938 and November 1944, it is sad to realize there are only about two dozen flying today in North America.

    The beautiful 4800′ grass airfield of Geneseo is located in the Western New York Finger Lakes Region that was the birthplace of the Curtiss Corporation. Event organizers note Geneseo is exactly halfway between Glenn Curtiss’ hometown of Hammondsport, NY and the WWII manufacturing center of Curtiss-Wright Corporation in Buffalo, NY… a geographic coincidence that makes the Flying Tigers Reunion even more unique.” […]

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