Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tommy Yee Obituary

Lung Yee
Lung Gow Yee August 28, 1928 - August 4, 2012 Lung or "Tommy" was born in Hoiping located in the Toishan region of Southern China. It was there where he developed his enduring strong work ethic and a life long love of sports. As a child, he would work alongside his parents, Fong Yit Hong and Wing Tong, cultivating rice on their plot of land. The waterways of the Pearl Delta provided many opportunities for him to become an avid swimmer and participate in dragon boat races. The family would briefly move to Shanghai. With his father serving in the US Army during World War II, the family moved to the United States. They would call San Francisco their new home where Lung graduated from Galileo High School. Soon thereafter, he followed his father?s footsteps and joined the US Army. He served in the military for three years and was primarily based in Japan. During leaves, he would often take trips to Hong Kong. It was in Hong Kong where he met his wife Nancy, who he married. The two of them adored each other and went on to spend 58 happy years together. After his tour of duty, Lung returned to America with his bride to help his parents and brother, Everett, establish a laundry business in Santa Cruz. It was there that the ever-loving couple began their own family and welcomed their first child and daughter, Emma, into their arms. The three of them would later move to Los Angeles, where they created a loving and supporting home for the next 55 years. The family continued to grow in Los Angeles. Lung and Nancy were blessed with three more children: Victor, Annie and Timmy. Lung would also start a new career as a restaurateur in Los Angeles. He was a well known waiter working at the Man Fook Low restaurant. Lung took his years of restaurant experience and opened his own restaurant in Encino called, House of Yee. Always looking for more challenging ventures, he decided upon a career change and opened Sunshine Printing for over 30 years, a successful printing and stationery store that included the first US Post Office within Chinatown. After years of working, Lung decided to retire and spend more time with his family especially with his grandchildren, Michelle and Michael. Lung planned daily outings to bring the family together. These outings included going to the movies, sharing his love of the Cantonese opera or simply having the family get together for a meal. He also wanted to spend more time pursuing his interests in sports and travel. He loved the San Francisco Giants and 49ers and watched as many games as possible. He also watched the games in person by visiting San Francisco often. When his teams made it to the championships, he was there too. He went to see two Superbowls. He also loved to travel throughout the world. He took his family on trips to Hawaii, Guam, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Taipei, Macau, Tokyo and Beijing. As much as Lung enjoyed traveling to exotic places, some of his favorite journeys were the simple road trips around America in the family station wagon, especially when going back to visit Santa Cruz. He loved being around his family and these trips are some of the fondest memories they have of Lung, a loving Husband, Father and Grandfather. He went on his final trip and is at his destination right now. He is in heaven where he is probably swimming the rivers of Toishan, with his parents proudly watching him speed along the waterways. Lung is survived by his loving wife Nancy; children Emma, Victor, Annie (Stanford) and Timmy; grandchildren Michelle (David) and Michael; brother Everett (Lane). There will be a viewing on Saturday August 11, 2012 3:00PM-5:00PM and a service will be on Sunday August 12, 2012 2:00PM at Universal Chung Wah Mortuary, 225 N. Garfield Avenue, Alhambra CA 91801. Lung was loved by all who knew him. We will miss him dearly.

Published in the Los Angeles Times from August 10 to August 11, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moon Fun Chin - Flying Tigers

Chinese American Hero: Moon Fun Chin

We lead off with another unheralded and virtually unknown hero who had undertaken many dangerous missions and along the way saved many lives. He is 95 year old Captain Moon Chin who is not a military officer, but was an airlines Captain who began flying when he was 20 years old left the US to join the Chinese National Aviation Corporation (CNAV), a subsidiary of Pan American Airlines which then was taken over by the Chinese Nationalist Air Force in partnership with the US government. Chin rescued many US Army Air Corps personnel, US Air Force air crews, and hundreds of civilians fleeing the Japanese military advances in China and throughout SE Asia. In 1942, he air evacuated Lt Colonel James Doolittle (which enabled Colonel Doolittle to eventually become General [4 star] Doolittle) who had just bombed Tokyo and was being ferociously pursued by an angry Japanese ground forces. Chin flew Doolittle to safety in Calcutta. There were many American and a few Canadian pilots who joined CNAV to help the war effort against the Japanese invaders, but Capt Chin was the only volunteer pilot who flew from 1933 until the end of WW II. He personally mapped the Himalayas (the so called ‘Hump’) which had to be used to transport fuel and supplies to the resistance as the Japanese had cut off all other logistics routes. Be sure to read his bio for other heroic stories about Capt Moon Chin and how he was credited with military service even though was never in the military.
Following Capt Chin, we have another unheralded heroic veteran, US Air Force Colonel Richard F. Hum, who served three wars, WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. Hum’s major contribution was actually during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when he personally briefed then President John F. Kennedy on the significance of the surveillance photographs taken from U-2 and other platforms which revealed the Russian ICBMs and ground support equipment that had been installed in Cuba and a real military threat to the national security of America. In his military career, Colonel Hum received 5 Legions of Merit awards, an extraordinary achievement and unmatched at the time.
Next, we have another unknown and forgotten hero, Major Arthur Chin (a colleague, but not a relative of Capt Moon Chin), who was also a volunteer to left the safety of Portland, Oregon, to become a fighter pilot hunting for Japanese Zeroes. He found a few, and shot down eight (8) Japanese fighters, becoming the first American Ace, but this was before Pearl Harbor, and the US had not officially started fighting Japan, so his heroic battle achievements are absent from US military records. Chin suffered severe burns over much of his anatomy after a crash landing and had a difficult life after the war.
Our next heroic veteran has been introduced before but that was because of his civilian service as the first Chinese American judge. Judge Delbert Wong, before his civil service, was a World War II navigator on B-17 bombers who flew 30 bombing missions into German territory. In his class of 30 navigators, only two survived their high risk bombing missions.
Our last hero for this week was also introduced before, and she is Ms. Heidi Shyu who was appointed Chief, United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, reporting directly to the US Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force. For a woman and an Asian woman to hold such a high level technical position is most unusual. That person would not only have an extraordinary scientific mind, but also be extremely capable to manage and successfully complete the complex systems development requirements of the US Air Force. Her span of control would have included the most advance aircraft and unmanned aircraft developments, but also space communications, computer systems and other highly classified projects requiring more than a Top Secret clearance.
Today, Chinese American scientists and engineers comprise about 15% of the technicians and engineers in our national laboratories including research centers like the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. With parents who strongly encourage their young people to study hard and study math, Chinese Americans will continue to make more than their portion of contributions to our nation’s scientific leadership and keep our national security strong.
For additional information about Chinese American heroes, please visit the website at .
moon-fun-chinName in English: Moon Fun Chin
Name in Chinese:
陈文宽 [陳文寬]
Name in Pinyin: Chén Wénkuān
Gender: Male
Birth Year: 1913
Birth Place: Toisan, Guangtung, China
Rescue Pilot honored by Congress
Profession(s): Aircraft Mechanic, Pilot, Airline Executive
Education: 1930, Public School 18, Baltimore, MD; 1933, Commercial Pilot License, Curtis Wright Flying School, Baltimore, MD.
Award(s): 1995 Distinguished Flying Cross; 1995 Air Medal; Presidential Unit Award; World War II Victory Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 silver star, United States Government.
Contribution(s): At the age of 20, Moon Chin went to Hong Kong and joined China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC). He was initially a copilot, then became a captain in 1936 and flew transport missions before and during WW II. He charted and flew many dangerous flights over ‘the Hump,’ the Himalayas, which are the highest mountain ranges in the world. In March 1942, he safely evacuated Lt Colonel James Doolittle from Kunming in China, transiting from Burma to Calcutta in India after the famous Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo. Moon and the other brave Hump pilots, both civilian and military, took tremendous risks delivering the critical war materials that helped stop the Imperial Japanese military attempt to conquer China and South Asia. Flying in unarmed cargo planes with minimal communications, limited navigation tools, and flying missions in bad weather or at night to avoid Japanese fighters, many hundreds of flights disappeared, the only sign of their passing being the wreckage littering countless Himalayan mountainsides. Moon and his colleagues were truly brave heroes.
Moon Chin also rescued many US Army Air Corps, US Air Force, and Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force crew members oftentimes during very dangerous periods of open war such as during WWII or the secret battles of the Cold War up until 1955. His most daring rescue occurred in 1954 when a US Air Force C-119 crew bailed out over the sea in bad weather between Guam and Taiwan. Chin, then the Chairman of the Board for Fu Hsing Airlines, personally flew a PBY Catalina flying boat, found the crew, landed in the water, and rescued 6 of them in stormy sea conditions. Two USAF amphibious aircraft at the scene had refused to land due to the turbulent waters, but Chin ignored the danger and landed anyway. The rescue effort took over 5 hours because landing and taking off again was so difficult. One of the rescued air crew, Major A W Gristad, described Capt Chin’s skill in landing and taking the seaplane off as “the best piece of flying I have ever seen. Captain Chin truly lived up to his reputation as the best ‘water man’ between the West Coast of America and the China coast.” Joining in the praise of USAF aircrews, General William Chase, Chief of the Military Advisory Group at the US Embassy in Taipei added his own commendations to Chin.
Much later, by US Senate resolution, Capt Moon Chin and other Hump pilots received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal in 1995. As a sign of the tremendous respect felt by the US military for him, Moon was credited for US military service from 1941-1945, even though he never served in the military.

Captain Moon F. Chin Recalls his Experience with the
China National Aviation Corporation

The San Francisco Airport Museums Oral History Program was initiated in 1997 to preserve first person accounts of the development of aviation. Transcribed oral history interviews are placed in the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum where they are catalogued and made available for use by scholars, historians, and the public. The Oral History Program serves to increase awareness of historic achievements in aviation by documenting this legacy for the benefit of current and future generations. For its 2003 annual giving, the San Francisco Aeronautical Society began underwriting the San Francisco Airport Museums Oral History Program.

The following edited excerpts are from oral history interviews conducted with Capt. Moon F. Chin between February 2nd and March 5th of 2004 by Mauree Jane Perry of Making History Associates. The full transcript will be available to the public at the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum.

Capt. Chin began his flying career with China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) in 1933 as a copilot on the Shanghai–Peking route. He became a captain in 1936 and flew transport missions before and during WW II that included flights over the Himalayas—a region known as “the Hump.” He joined the Central Air Transport Corporation (CATC) in 1946 as head of operations where he acquired aircraft, hired and trained flight crews, and initiated operations on Mainland China. CATC became part of Civil Air Transport (CAT) of Taiwan in 1947. In 1964, Capt. Chin founded Foshing Airlines with service from Taipei to Taitung.

Moon F. Chin - Spring 2004
Photograph by Gabriel Branbury

Mauree Jane Perry: How soon after you started working for CNAC did you begin flying the actual Shanghai–Peking flight?

Capt. Moon F. Chin: Well I applied for the job in January 1933, and I joined March 1, 1933. I think I waited two months. I had to start work as a mechanic since I had experience as a mechanic. So from the first of March until the middle of the month when we started flying to Peking, I worked everyday on the airplanes as a mechanic. Even after I started flying to Peking and back, I still had to work as a mechanic until I was transferred from land planes to seaplanes.

Q. What navigational tools did you use in 1933?

A. We didn’t have any. (Laughing) No navigation—no instrument flying. In fact, in those days we didn’t have autogyro, we didn’t have directional gyro. Later I learned by myself what we called “one–two–three.” You only look at three instruments: the air speed, the climb indicator, the bank and turn—you know the ball and the needle. That’s all we needed. We had oil pressure and gasoline, but those had to do with the engine. I’m talking about flying. We had a compass, of course, the bank and turn, and the air speed. So you watch the three instruments. You start with the air speed. Then you go to climb indicator, then you go to the bank and turn. (Laughing) So you keep going around. See, what I learned mostly on instrument flying was when I flew from Chengtu [now Chengdu] to Chungking [now Chongqing]. I became a captain in 1936. Every chance I had I tried to fly one–two–three. We called it that because you looked at one instrument going round so you keep the air speed, the climb indicator, and the bank and turn—and once in a while you look at compass to see the direction you’re going in.

Q. So after you became a captain in 1936, where did you fly?

A. I flew everyday between Chengtu and Chungking. In the morning I would take off from Chengtu to Chungking and then on to Hankow [now Hankou]. After the Hankow plane came in with the Loening the next day, I would carry those passengers back to Chengtu. The DC-2 used to fly from Shanghai to Hankow to Chungking to Chengtu. That’s what I did for one year.

Then, around 1938, I was sent to Shanghai. They gave me two weeks leave to go to Hong Kong. When we returned after one week, that’s when the trouble started in Shanghai. Then I left for Nanking [now Nanjing] and never went back to Shanghai until 1945. So after Shanghai was bombed [in 1938] I went back to my old route.

Only sometimes I would fly to Rangoon or wherever they wanted. Sometimes to Hanoi. Sometimes I would fly to Guilin on that peculiar plane, the Dolphin, a stagger wing Beechcraft, a British twin-engine plane. This place was very hard to go to—all mountains, and the weather was very bad.

Q. So you would wake up in the morning and not know where they were going to send you to fly that day?

A. When I used to fly, before Pearl Harbor, I was based in Chungking. When the planes came in from Hong Kong, I would either go with them as a copilot or I would take the plane back from Rangoon or Hanoi. Then the pilot would take them back to Hong Kong.

Q. When did you start flying to Hong Kong?

A. Oh, that’s after Hankow was lost in 1938. Before Hankow was lost, I was stationed in Chungking I was just flying a seaplane from Chungking to Hankow. Q. You liked your work? You were flying as a copilot or pilot. You went all over southeastern China, Burma [now Myanmar], Hong Kong, Indochina [now Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and West Malaysia]. You had different routes, different airplanes to fly. You were paid. You were married. Were you in danger?

A. I liked my work. I didn’t feel I was in danger.

Q. What about navigation tools. How had they changed?

A. You see, before I was transferred and I was in Chungking, I was more or less not alone but I did most of the work for the Chinese Air Force. In the old days, between Chungking and Chengtu, I would fly to the northwest border with Russia. I would take the pilots or mechanic to get the Russian fighters. They didn’t have radio, so they depended on us to lead them-—like a bird following the goose. We had the radio, and we had the Telefunken directional finder. The fighter planes’ range was very short. So we would lead them to this airfield. I circled until the first squadron refueled. Then, when they were ready to take off, the second squadron would go down and refuel. If there was an air raid, then I would just wiggle my wings and make a circle and go towards Chengtu. At the same time, there would be a signal on the field that an air raid was going on. They couldn’t land until the refueled planes were coming up.

One time I was supposed to lead a bunch of Russian bombers with Chinese pilots to Guilin. They asked me to go to Chengtu and pick up some drop-able tanks, made of bamboo. They put them under their wings to get longer range. When they finished using that gas, they just dropped them because they didn’t have use for it anymore. Because they didn’t have metal, they made the extra gas tanks out of bamboo.

Q. Let’s talk about some of the various planes you flew. A. The first plane I flew for CNAC was the Stinson. It was the biggest plane I had flown at that time. Five passengers plus the pilot and copilot. It was a high wing. Before they had the smaller tires, later they had the balloon tires because they could land on paved field where you have soft mud and things like that. It moved better than the regular tire. And then the next plane I flew was the seaplane, an amphibian Loening that flew from Shanghai along the Yangtze River.

Q. Was it difficult to learn to fly a seaplane? A. No. The flying is all the same except when it lands in the water. In a seaplane you pull back on the controls to get the plane on the step, they call it. In a land plane you can drive forward to get the tail up. But in a seaplane, you have to get up on the step and once you are on the step, then you fly it like a regular plane.

Q. Did you have a preference?

A. Not exactly, but before you got on a seaplane you learned how to sail a boat. That was part of the training, because when you are on the water you have to learn about the wind and the current. On the Yangtze River you have downward flow. So they gave us a little sailboat, and we learned how to go downwind, crosswind so that when you get on the seaplane, it is the same thing as on a sailboat. If the wind is stronger against the current, you go into the wind. But if there is no wind, then you go downstream with the flow of the water. If the wind is strong enough and with the water, then you go against the current and into the wind.

You practiced in the little sailboat on the river. The only time you have current like that is only when it is high tide or low tide. So when it's low tide, maybe you go against the wind, so you have to practice different times of the day. It’s very good. When you have the engine off, you are drifting against the current. If the engine is dead and you have no power, you have to find a way to get the plane to drift so you get onto a corner where you beach the plane. You drift awhile and later on you get going. Later on they added a little rudder in the water, and then we had a cable.

As a copilot the only thing you had in terms of training was when the pilot was taxiing. You had to lie on your belly on the lower wing and when he approached the floating drum you had to grab that rope and tie it on to the side of the hull, and he would cut the engine when you signaled that you got it fastened. Sometimes he would go too fast, and you couldn’t hold on to it to get the rope wrapped around. So he wouldn’t cut off the engine until he was sure that you had the engine tied.

Being a copilot in the wintertime was terrible because it was so cold. Lying down on your belly, you’d get all wet. Afterward you got up with the wind blowing and the propeller blasting; you know, you could feel your hands getting frozen.

Q. How many captains were there at CNAC in 1938? A.Not many. About four American and four Chinese captains. C. L. Sharp was No. 1. Then there was Woody and Pottschmidt. At that time I was flying the seaplane between Hankow and Chungking. They were flying the land planes. So we would meet each other during different times. Two of us flew the Commodore. Sometimes we flew the Douglas Dolphin.

Q. You liked the Dolphin? It had 8 seats and flew 140 miles per hour, and had a range of 720 miles.

A. That was much better than the Commodore. That only went 110 miles per hour. Maybe less. We used to say it took off, landed, and cruised at the same speed. (Laughing) The Dolphin was a good plane to fly. But I remember that every time we landed I had to walk down the top of the wing spar and push the nail back in. The wing wasn’t metal; it was plywood covered, no fabric. It was glued, of course, to the metal frame and rib. After so long, the wing would start flapping. So after we landed, when we would go up on the wing to gas the plane, we’d walk down the spar to push the nail back in. Actually, the nail was not doing any good. It was the glue holding it together.

Q. So you were based in Chungking during the war. The question is why were you even flying all the way to the Russian border?

A. Because we flew to Yining. That’s where the Russians brought the planes over to China. In 1937–38 the Russians flew the planes themselves. But later on, they didn’t have the pilots. They just sold the planes to the Chinese. They didn’t fly over. The Japanese were protesting over this.

So the planes would come from Moscow and would land over on the Russian side. Then they would pull them by hand over the Chinese border and they would tow them down to the airfield here. The airfield is closer to the border actually. I remember when I flew there the town was not much.

Yining is the Chinese airfield on this side, and this is the Russian airfield on the other side. Alma Ata is the Russian base. SAS used to fly in and out of and stop there on the way to Scandinavia. Anyway, before we used to go from Chengtu. Lanchow [now Lanzhou] and Chengtu and Chungking.

The Chinese Air Force was in Chengtu. Chungking was the wartime capital. Xi'an is here. This is the area where they tested the atomic bomb. This is the end of the Great Wall, the end of the Himalayas that goes all the way to the Great Wall. Hami is here. Turpan is the second lowest place in the world. Below sea level. But the mountains here are over 15,000 or 16,000 feet.

Q. Had these western routes [across the Northwest Frontier] you flew ever been flown before?

A. No, never before.

Q. So how did you know where the mountains were and how high they were? When you chart a path in such difficult territory, how do you go about it?

A. First he [C. L. Sharp] gave me the report. They took off from Peshawar, the northwest frontier of India at that time. He described this area. He was already flying around 30,000. The B-24 can go up that high. But we could only go around 20,000 feet. After he couldn’t see Yarkant, he said he followed the Yarkant River. There were sandstorms. This area is all desert.

Q. What is it that you did that the B-24 couldn’t do? A. They started from India, trying to survey, and they couldn’t see so they turned back.

Q. I see because of the dust storms and because they were so high up in a B-24. But you were in a DC-3 and could stay under the clouds?
When you chart a path, what do you do?

A. We studied where the path was so we could get through. There are three paths we could get through. We only looked at the one path, but we could see the other side, and we went through it. If we couldn’t see the other side, we didn’t go through. (Laughing) There is another pass near Afghanistan. After Afghanistan there is Russia, so there are four countries that touch.

So, in the summer of 1942 we went south to New Delhi, then to Karachi, then to the northwest frontier near Peshawar, what they called in the old days, the Northwest Frontier. It had many troubles before in the old days. Then we spent the night there. The Air Force gave us dinner. They all wore gloves, the British. (Laughing)

Q. Where did you get your gas supplies?

A. We still had the U.S. Army with the star and the two bars indicating it was an American plane. When we left Calcutta we got gas. We got gas at Kunming, that’s where the Chinese Air Force was. But when we went there, they didn’t have the high octane.

Q. I wanted to ask you where you were when Pearl Harbor occurred? A. I was in Hong Kong. Pearl Harbor was on December 7. But in Hong Kong it was the nighttime on the 8th. On the morning of the 8th I was still in bed. I saw a formation of fighter planes start coming down. I thought they were practicing. From my bed I could see the Pan American Clipper in the water. I saw the tail of the DC-2 in front of the hangar. All of a sudden I saw water spraying up. They were machine-gunning that Clipper. But the Clipper had been waiting to go to Manila, so it had a lot of gas in its tank, and it caught fire right away. I don’t know if they actually dropped a bomb on the Clipper or not, I didn’t see. But I saw the DC-2’s tail start to burn, and I saw the Clipper burn first.

After it was over, I drove my car to the market to buy some rice. I saw the DC-2 burn up. Then when I got home, I got a telephone call to prepare to leave that night. The company called me. “Get ready to leave tonight?” I said, “But all the planes burned up.” He said, “No, one plane didn’t get hit. We pushed it off the airfield. And the two planes didn’t come back last night.” So we still had three airplanes, you see.

Q. So now let’s talk about the Doolittle experience. After Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Doolittle and his sixteen U.S. Army B-25 bombers broke through Japanese defenses on April 18, 1942, to strike Tokyo and other cities in broad daylight. It was a daring and dramatic raid. Then he flew on to China.

A. On my regular flight out of Chungking, we were delayed, and we didn’t know what the reason was. We saw the American ambassador and all hanging around. When the party came down and they all got near the cabin door, we were sitting in the cockpit. I was the pilot. But I didn’t see who was coming. It was April 1942. Then they got around the entrance door to the plane, and then I saw people climb up on the plane and the others got away. They cleared us to start the engine, and we took off for Kunming.

Less than an hour before we got to Kunming, we got a warning that there was an air raid going on. So we found an airstrip in the mountains and we landed there. We landed on this place and we got everybody out of the plane and we hid in a ditch. We had a crew of four, and then of course about eight or ten passengers. Doolittle was one of them. The others were regular passengers. And when I got down, he came next to me and I saw his name, Doolittle. First I saw his clothes were pretty dirty. When he came over to me in the ditch, I told him I remembered him back in 1933 in Shanghai.

Then when we got clearance, I got all the passengers on the plane, but he didn’t get on the plane. He just stood there near the wing tip talking to me. He said, “Which way are you going to take off?” This airfield was not level, it was uphill, and we were parked in a down part of the hill. I told him I was going to take off downwind. Usually a plane takes off upwind. Then he said, “O.K. If you were going to take off upwind, then I was going to stay here.” (Laughing) Then of course there was some telephone wire on a bamboo pole in a ditch or something. Only a couple of telephone wires. So he said, “What about those?” I said, “Gee, if we don’t make it we’ll just take the wire with us.” (Laughing) He got on the plane.

Then when we landed in Kunming, General Chennault was waiting. They saluted each other and drove away. So when it was time to leave, they came in and got in the plane. We were supposed to go to Dinjan. That’s what he thought. But the instruction was to get to Myitkyina, which is in the northern part of Burma. We were supposed to pick up the radio operator and the company personnel and equipment because that was the last day they were going to be there.

Q. Did you know what was happening politically in Myitkyina, that is, that it was under attack?

A. Yes we knew that because we were supposed to pick up the company personnel.

Q. Were you frightened?

A. Oh no. (Laughing) When we were flying we should have been flying northward, and Doolittle wrote me a little note on a piece of paper, and he gave it to the radio operator. The operator—no first he asked the radio operator, “Why are we flying north?” The operator told him because we were going to Myitkyina. Then he wrote on a piece of paper that the ambassador in Chungking told him Myitkyina had fallen that afternoon. I told the operator, no, the company would have warned me not to go to Myitkyina if it had already fallen. I didn’t pay any attention to him.

Then when we got to within twenty-some odd miles of Myitkyina, I saw a plane up in the air on the way to Dinjan. It looked like the last plane. I couldn’t see what plane it was, but it looked like it was on.

Then when we got to within twenty-some odd miles of Myitkyina, I saw a plane up in the air on the way to Dinjan. It looked like the last plane. I couldn’t see what plane it was, but it looked like it was on its way to Dinjan. Then we got to Myitkyina. We saw all the people leaving the airfield. That was the last plane. So they all left. A big crowd. They were trying to get out on that plane. When they saw us approaching they all returned, rushing back to the airfield because they thought another plane was coming in for them.

So when we landed, we found out that all the people we were supposed to pick up had gone on that last plane—the radio equipment and all the personnel, because we were late. Because of the air raid we were delayed a couple hours. So the radio operator didn’t know what we were doing. See, before we got to the airfield, he had disassembled his radio equipment so he didn’t know what was going on. Then all the refugees wanted to get on the plane. We started loading them.

Q. Whose decision was it to load the refugees on the plane?

A. Well, they all crowded around. They all wanted to go. We tried to take as many as we could.

Q. So it was your decision?

A. Yes, well, actually Doolittle helped. We had to take the ladder away because we didn’t want people climbing up. We picked the older people and the ladies with the kids. In fact, we had a lady get on board but her husband couldn’t get on board so she jumped back out. He looked very healthy, see. So she jumped back out.

When we were nearly packed, Doolittle wanted to know what the hell I was doing. I said, “We do that quite often.” After we were all full, we closed the door. Then we got everybody out of the way so we could taxi and take off. I figured that since we had a full load, we shouldn’t go to Dinjan, so we went direct to Calcutta. We just had enough fuel to reach Calcutta.

Q. And this plane that usually held only twenty-one people held how many?

A. Seventy, I think. Just packed in there. Sitting on the floor. Standing up. Then we landed. We found when we opened the cargo door we had another eight people packed in the cargo area. When we landed in Calcutta, the American embassy people came. Doolittle disappeared. He didn’t go through customs. He didn’t go through immigration. I didn’t know what was what. Then the next morning I looked at the paper and read that he had bombed Tokyo.

Q. You hadn’t known that he had bombed Tokyo?

Nooooo. If I had known, I wouldn’t have taken the chance to go through all that. I had no idea.

Q. You land and you see all the refugees climb out of the plane. You see the extra people climb out of the cargo, and then you saw that Doolittle didn’t have to go through customs. Did you say goodbye to him. Did he say goodbye to you or give you a thumb’s up?

A. No, he waved. I saw him talking to the people meeting him, people from the consulate. When I read the papers the next day, I said to myself, he went to all that trouble, and then I almost got him killed. We talked to each other a couple times, before the war ended and after the war. We just said hello to each other.

Q. If you had known you were carrying this important man, would you have done anything differently?

A. I wouldn’t have gone to Myitkyina.

Q. But you know the airline, the company, must have known you were carrying Captain Doolittle?

A. They knew he was on board, but they didn’t know he had bombed Tokyo. Nobody did. See the news didn’t come out until after he left Calcutta.

Q. What did you do for oxygen if you were flying up to 15,000 feet?

A. In early days we only had portable oxygen. Later the planes had the low-pressure oxygen system in the aircraft. But we didn’t use it until 8,000 feet. Usually we didn’t use it until 10,000 feet. In 1943 I came to the United States, and I flew the DC-4. I was checked out at American Airlines at La Guardia Airport. I liked this airplane. In those days it was a big airplane. (Laughing) Of course, any time you have a big airplane like that there were more things to handle. But it was very easy, for every Douglas airplane was almost the same.

Then at the end of 1943–44, we had the C-46 Commando. It could go about 1,400 or 1,500 miles.

Q. Where did you fly this transport plane?

A. During the war, CNAC got delivered one or two a month. We started getting it the end of 1943. When I flew for CATC, we bought nine of those from the Foreign Liquidation Com-mission. It was like surplus, planes that were left in Shanghai.

Then the C-47s, I bought two of those in 1946. They were brand new. Never been flown, just shipped to India. I bought them for $5,000 apiece. I bought them for CATC. The company bought them. I bought two of them for training. I used them mostly flying between Shanghai and Nanking when they asked me to go to a meeting. These were trainers, not for passengers. We needed them for training, since we were starting a new company.

Q. Why did you use this particular plane to train pilots for the new company?

A. For basic training. At that time after the war, we figured we had to train from the ground up. Of course, CATC bought six of the Convairs. It was the first new plane after the war. The DC-6 came out right after that. I was checked out on that in 1949. Q.Who checked you out? A.We had sent twelve crew over here to train with American Airlines in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Then, when they ferried the planes back, I flew back and forth with them on the trips.

Originally when we purchased these planes, they were from Shanghai. But when we got the planes, Shanghai was almost gone, so we used the planes between Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Bangkok. Two of the planes arrived, and they didn’t make a single trip because there was no place for them to go.

Photograph by Gabriel Branbury.
CNAC luggage label, 1940s, San Francisco Airport Museums, gift of the Pan Am Association.
Published as a supplement to the Spring 2004 issue of FAM 14, the newsletter of the San Francisco Aeronautical Society.
Copyright © 2004 San Francisco Aeronautical Society. All rights reserved.
Contact for San Francisco Aeronautical Society membership information.

This will be the cover of the book, "The Life Next to the Spinning Propeller" by Li Wang.
The book should be published around Christmas of this year, 2007.

The following three links will show a three page article written by Liu Xiao Tong of Chengdu, China, about Moon F. Chin.
Page one
Page two
Page three

Liu Xiao Tong has written these two books:

If you would like to share any information about Moon F. Chin
or would like to be added to the CNAC e-mail distribution list,
please let the CNAC Web Editor, Tom Moore, know.

Monday, August 6, 2012

China Town of Rancho Cucamonga

Report expected on historic China House in Rancho Cucamonga

Created:   08/02/2012 07:06:13 AM PDT

In the 1880s, Chinese workers who had helped build the transcontinental railroad settled in an area of Rancho Cucamonga near the present-day intersection of San Bernardino Road and Archibald Avenue.
They found work in vineyards and farms, digging irrigation channels, and making fireworks. Hundreds of Chinese immigrants lived in a small area of town where the present-day intersection of Klusman and San Bernardino Avenues is today.
Nearly a century ago, a fire burned down the wooden homes the Chinese workers lived in. Replacement living quarters came in the form of three two-story clay block structures, that housed dozens of workers each. All that remains of the former China Town of Rancho Cucamonga is a single two-story clay block home on the northwest corner of Klusman and San Bernardino.
Ed Dietl, a member of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, wants to preserve a part of this history for present and future residents. Dietl said he believes the deteriorating building, which is made of unsupported clay blocks, will eventually fall on its own in the near future.
"When that happens then we'll have to knock it down because it will be a health hazard for all the people who try to walk through the area," Dietl said.
"What we'd like to do is take it down nicely and preserve some of the bricks, and build a nice pyramid or corner stone or something on the property with a brass plaque saying at one time there was a Chinatown here."
Dietl shared interesting tidbits about the building's history. After the last Chinese resident left the home in the 1940s, a family moved into the home after which they installed heating, air, and plumbing.
The children in the family were delighted to find secret tunnels underneath the building. Others later found smoking pipes and bottles - the artifacts from the earlier inhabitants near the former outhouse in the backyard.
Dietl also believes the former residents of the home are buried underneath the property.
"We think that most of the people that died on this property were buried on this property because there was no Chinese cemetery.
Dietl also related a legend about a former resident, who had lived in the Chinatown for 50 years, and had lived in the home before he died at the age of 87. Two days before his death, he gave newspaper confetti to a woman he had been working for and asked the woman to spread the confetti over his grave in order "to keep the devil away."
Dietl said the woman could still see the man standing over his grave amidst the confetti.
"I'm sure there's ghosts here," Dietl said. There's a lot of history here."
Edward Dietl, of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, is interested in keeping the history of the China House, alive. The home, which was built in 1919, is the last remnant of a once thriving China Town, near the intersection of Archibald Avenue and San Bernardino Road. (Neil Nisperos/Staff Writer)
with the Cucamonga Valley Water District, which owns the property, said they are developing a historic preservation plan, said Jolynne Russo-Pereyra, assistant general manager of the Water District.Russo-Pereyra said the plan is to hire a historic preservation consultant. Preliminary ideas include photographic documentation and drafting engineering records, preservation of the bricks, and the placement of a plaque or monument commemorating the site.
"The structure is very dilapidated and very unsafe and we've been in communications with the city about this but we'd like to memorialize the significance of it, so we'll be bringing in a historic preservation consultant," Russo-Pereyra said.
At a recent Rancho Cucamonga Planning Commission meeting, Dietl asked officials and planners for a report on what the city with the water district to preserve the site.
Officials said a report on the property will be presented at the next Planning Commission meeting in August.
"We love the old property and we want to do everything we can to preserve a little bit of Cucamonga's history. We'd love to do it because it's disappearing rapidly and there's no money anymore. The best thing is to donate the piece of property to a historical association or do some work on the property to fix it up so it looks pretty nice. This is a really nice old area of Cucamonga which shows the way it existed and we're not doing ourselves any favors by leaving it the way it is."