Red town preserves Sino-US friendship story during WWII
Mannequins in a memorial hall depict how Liu Fangqiao (R), a Chinese villager, helps US Pilot Lt. R.M. Gray of the Doolittle Raid to walk on a mountain route. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The Memorial Hall of Suichang People's Rescue of American Pilots in Wangcunkou town of Suichang county in Lishui city of Zhejiang province, has preserved a lesser-known friendship story between Chinese villagers and American soldiers during the World War II.
On April 18, 1942, most of the air servicemen involved in the Doolittle Raid, the daring air attack which bolstered American morale and caused the Japanese to begin doubting their leadership, flew to China after attacking Japan. Low on fuel, the men either bailed out of their planes or crash-landed along the coast before getting rescued by local villagers.
Some crew members of the third aircraft including Pilot Lt. R.M. Gray and Bombardier Sgt. A.E. Jones landed in Suichang county where villagers provided them with shelter and food.
Both the Chinese and Americans did not forget this piece of history. At the 50th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid 1992, Liu Fangqiao, a Chinese villager who helped Pilot Lt. R.M. Gray in Suichang, was invited to meet with the families of the US veterans. On Sept 27, 2018, Wangcunkou town set up the memorial hall to honor this story of friendship.
The memorial hall also features the words of former US presidents who commented about this incident.
"When the Fascist troops swept through Asia, we stood with you against the enemy. Some of you will remember those days, remember when our General Doolittle and his team went across half the Earth to give assistance, some treated them, and saved many lives of them," said former US president Ronald Reagan at Fudan University during a visit to China on April 30 in 1984.
"The kind Chinese, regardless of their own safety, provided cover for our pilots and healed them. On this special occasion, we pay high tribute to them. Thanks to their humanitarian efforts, it was their help that enabled our pilots to return safety," said former US president George W. Bush in a letter to mark the 50th anniversary of the Doolittle strike on March 17 in 1992.
"The American people will never forget the hospitality shown to them by local people after American pilots were shot down over China during the World War II, and Chinese citizens risked everything to cover them up," said former US president Barack Obama at Fudan University during his first visit to China on Nov 16, 2009.
Wangcunkou town is an important red tourism site that displays Chinese revolutionary history and stories of the Communist Party of China in southwest Zhejiang. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]