Birth of Claire Chennault 

Birth of Claire Chennault 

U.S. #2187 was issued on Chennault’s 97th birthday.

Claire Lee Chennault was born on September 6, 1893, in Commerce, Texas.

Chennault spent his early years in Louisiana, attended Louisiana State University, and joined the ROTC. He worked as a school principal until the outbreak of World War I, at which point he joined the Army Signal Corps. Chennault went on to fly with the Army Air Service during that war.

After World War I, Chennault was made Chief of Pursuant Section at the Air Corps Tactical School. He also led the 1st Pursuit Group Army Air Corps aerobatic team, the Three Musketeers, which he later reorganized as Three Men on the Flying Trapeze.

By the mid-1930s, Chennault’s health was suffering and he fought with superiors after he was passed over for a promotion. So he retired from the military on April 30, 1937. He was then invited to join a small group of American civilians in China training their airmen.

U.S. #2187 FDC – Chennault Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

Shortly after Chennault’s arrival in China, the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out and he was made chief air advisor to Chiang Kai-shek. In this role he trained Chinese Air Force pilots and flew on occasional scouting missions. Then in 1940 he traveled back to the U.S. to request more planes and pilots. From this meeting came the creation of the American Volunteer Group, also known as the Flying Tigers. The U.S. promised 100 planes as well as mechanics, pilots, and aviation supplies.

Item #20108 – Commemorative cover marking Chennault’s 91st birthday.

Chennault planned and campaigned for a bombing raid by his tigers, which he believed could end the war. The raid never happened because airfields weren’t built close enough to Japan to launch the planes. Then on December 20, 1941, Chennault’s Tigers shot down four Japanese planes bound for Kunming.

Item #7501641 – Set of three Chennault First Day Proof Cards.

The Tigers continued to guard the Burma Road, Rangoon, and other important locations in Southeast Asia and Western China. Eventually, Chennault rejoined the Army and the Tigers were formally incorporated into the U.S. Army Air Forces.

After the war Chennault returned to China and created Civil Air Transport (later Air America) to aid Nationalist China in its struggle against Communist China. He was eventually promoted to lieutenant general in the Air Force nine days before his death on July 27, 1958.

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5 responses to "Birth of Claire Chennault "

5 thoughts on “Birth of Claire Chennault ”

  1. As a young officer, I was assigned the the 75th FIS, which became the last operational flying squadron from the original 23rd Pursuit Group of the Flying Tigers. I transferred to California and while finishing my degree Hap Arnold’s wife was celebrating her 80th birthday. The Air Force would not support the request for a fly-by so a group of antique plane advocates from San Jose flew four “Jennies” up to Santa Rosa right over my house. I was reading a book about WWI aviators called “They fought for the Skies” when they came over. It was an eerie trip into the past watching them putter by.

    Reply
  2. good story, I believe my brother flew one of those planes until he was trained to fly B-29
    and his plane crashed in the U.S. and all were killed except him, he was in the hospital from
    playing football the night before and dislocated his coller bone and couldn’t make the flight.
    thanks for all the true stories

    Reply
  3. Mstic could you please tell me why of great Americans from 1980 to 1999 are not shown after the Chennault .40 cent samp was shown like you did on several different occasions??????

    Reply

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