The First American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force, better known as The Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army Air Corps, Navy, and Marine Corps, recruited under secret presidential authority. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, they were the first Americans to directly engage with the Japanese, and their exploits became the stuff of legend.
Samuel Kleiner’s new book - The Flying Tigers - tells the story of 300 individuals who were effectively paid mercenaries, secretly recruited by a mysterious shell company that the United States government had created to circumvent its official stance of non-intervention in the war.
As U.S.-China relations are increasingly in the news, it is important to understand just how intertwined our nations’ histories really are. The Flying Tigers are hailed as heroes in China, but their story is lesser-known stateside.