Claire Chennault

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Claire Chennault
Claire Lee Chennault
Nickname(s) “Old Leatherface”
Birthday/Birthplace (1893-09-06)September 6, 1893
Commerce, Texas, U.S.
Deceased July 27, 1958(1958-07-27)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Buried Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army Air Service (1918-1926)
United States Army Air Corps (1926–1937)
Republic of China Air Force (1937–1942)
United States Army Air Forces (1942–1945)
Years of service 1917–1945
Rank Lieutenant general
Commands held
  • 1st American Volunteer Group
  • China Air Task Force
  • Fourteenth Air Force
Battles/wars
  • World War I
  • Sino-Japanese War
  • World War II
  • Burma Campaign
  • China-Burma-India Theater
Awards Won
  • Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
  • Order of the Cloud and Banner
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Order of Blue Sky and White Sun
Wife/Husband
  • Nell Thompson (1911-1946)
  • Anna Chennault (née Chen Xiangmei) (1947-1958, his death)

Claire_Chennault’s Biography

Descendant of French immigrants was born on September 6, 1893 in Commerce, Texas, but was raised in Parish of Tensas, Louisiana where his mother died when he was only 5 years old. He graduated from the Louisiana State University. On December 25, 1911, she married Nell Thompson, with whom she had 8 children and of whom she ended up divorcing in 1946, remarrying Chen Xiangmei, a Chinese war correspondent, with whom she had two more daughters.

Flight Instructor

Before starting the First World War he was a professor in several states, Louisiana, Kentucky. After the entry of EE UU. in the war he became flight instructor. After the conflict he served on several air patrols throughout the country, until in 1937 he was forced to leave the service due to disagreements with his superiors and hearing loss problems in one of his ears.

Flying Tigers

Curtiss P-40 of the Flying Tigers.


Soon he was soon joining a group of American civilians paid by the Chinese government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-chek who instructed the Chinese pilots in their war against Japan. He persuaded US President Roosevelt to send devices and allow the formation of a squad of volunteers (mercenaries), for his fight in 1941. This squad, the 1st of American Volunteers (AVG), among them were the famous aces Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and David Lee “Tex” Hill. He began fighting on December 20, 1941, thirteen days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the entry of EE UU. In the conflict, the Flying Tigers were absorbed by the US Army, in mid-1942 and Chennault re-entered the army commanding the group, which would now be called the 14th Air Force.

French troops in Indochina

One of the most conflictive points of his campaign was the abandonment of the French troops in Indochina. In his memoirs, he explains the goal that had been entrusted to him.

«The orders of the General Headquarters indicated that the French units should not receive weapons or ammunition. I applied the orders to the letter, without being able to make up my mind that it was leaving the French being massacred in the jungle, when I was forced to officially ignore their fate. ” [I carried out my orders to the letter, but did not relish the idea of ​​leaving Frenchmen to be slaughtered in the jungle while I was forced to ignore their plight.] Claire Chenault in her memoirs

Despite its breadth and its unprecedented cruelty, the assault of March 9 does not cause excessive reactions in the metropolis, too busy at that time to recover from their own situation. Jacques de Folin points out that Le Monde was the only newspaper to publish an editorial on the annihilation of French troops by the Japanese Army. However, more than one historian considers that “the Indochina war begins on March 9, 1945.”

Almost at the end of the war some disputes with high commanders, in particular Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, about the strategy to follow in Asia forced him to leave the command and leave China in July 1945. In spite of this he was considered by the Chinese as a hero for his leadership and his special dedication to China.

More Facts about Claire Chennault

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