By Barb Hauge
One Pearl Harbor Day Art and I were invited to Turner School to share our World War II experiences with the students. Our school is a vital part of our community which we try hard to keep. When rural populations dwindle to the point that no school can be maintained, you lose an important, unifying force in community life.
Art still fits into his World War II uniform with 14th Air Corps Flying Tigers logo. This is worn on both cap and sleeve and we understand this emblem is now a collectors item. For good luck, we sent one to our foster daughters husband when he shipped overseas with Special Forces during The Gulf War. He returned but with severe emotional and physical problems.
After speaking to the students I felt Art's experiences in C/B/I (China/Burma/India) were so interesting they should be recorded so I put it all together in a book "With The Flying Tigers in China." During that time I was involved with International Pen Pals and a Chinese friend, Gohua Hu shared with us his War memories which I included in the book.
Yes, "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet" but like a lot of old sayings, that one isn't true either. World War II brought East and West together in ways the old sayings could never have imagined. The Chinese have a folk superstition and believe they pick up devils during the year so whenever possible they would dash in front of a vehicle or an airplane at great risk to themselves. They did this to cut themselves free of all those shadowing devils. This act caused some casualties among Chinese workers at the Air Base. One poor guy got his arm sliced off by an airplane propeller and then tried to put the arm back on while his fellow workers laughed like it was th funniest sight they'd ever seen. Before help arrived he bled to death on the runway.
Art said, "We were given stupid Army lectures about how to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese. They said Japanese were shorter, were bow-legged and had a wide space between the big and second toe from wearing thongs all their lives. But we noticed lots of Chinese also wear thongs. And height of both Chinese and Japanese varies according to nutrition and the area where they live."
"The Chinese, like the Indians, were desperately poor people. They wore patched rags and ate one meal a day. We saw not fat Chinese. Chinese food consisted mostly of rice, fish and vegetables with some pork. And tea. During all the famines Chinese had learned to eat really strange things like duck webs and deer tendons and afterbirth, both animal and human. Flies and rodents were a problem and all water had to be boiled before drinking, no water in China was pure because their dead were buried in the ground instead of being burned; all of the dead are cremated in India where underground water is pure."
Gohua Hu got acquainted with Father Knight, a radio operator and clergyman in the Army. "From him I learned that Christians as well as Confucianism or Buddhism taught people to behave well, putting aside the superstitious color. Education must be an important role in cultivating people up. We cannot simply judge whether a country is advanced or not by its peoples wealth or by its military power but by its peoples behavior."
Gohua worked with Americans at C-NAC (China National Aviation Corp.) who were wise like Father Knight but others were arrogant and behaved badly.