Senior Master Sgt. Rod Benefiel, 437th Maintenance Group production superintendent, talks with a family member of one of the Flying Tigers on a C-17 during the reunion. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sam Hymas)
Ed Stiles, who was a crew chief with the Flying Tigers, talks with 1st Lt. Michael Campbell, 14th Airlift Squadron pilot, in the cockpit of a C-17 during the Flying Tigers reunion April 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sam Hymas)
5/2/2007 - CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Flying Tigers, a highly decorated fighter group during WWII, held a reunion here recently.
Fourteen of the original American Volunteer Group, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, met on base to reunite, see the Team Charleston mission and tell their story to base Airmen April 27.
The Flying Tigers and their family members were welcomed by Col. Glen Joerger, 437th Airlift Wing commander, and were shown the wing mission video. They also received a tour of a C-17 and were given a security forces Raven demonstration and a military working dog demonstration.
They also met with Team Charleston members for a panel discussion where Airmen could ask the Flying Tigers questions and hear firsthand accounts of some of the experiences they had while in China.
We had a great time. You have an incredible airplane here and these young guys are fantastic, said Ed Stiles, a crew chief with the Flying Tigers.
The Flying Tigers were a group of fighter pilots and maintenance and support workers recruited under a secret Presidential sanction who were formed to defend the Burma supply line to China. After Pearl Harbor, the Flying Tigers achieved notable success against the forces of Japan and were credited for destroying nearly 300 aircraft with a loss of only 12 of their own in combat.
Their shark-faced fighters remain among the most recognizable of any individual combat unit of WWII and they set precedence with their innovative tactical victories.