Looking Back From Ninety


Chennault joins the US Army

With interruptions, Claire Lee Chennault was an American military officer from 1917 until his death in 1958, and along the way he left a trail of documents that were recently scanned and made available at the National Archives. His "Official Military Personnel File" runs to 838 pages. (Well, they're actually images, but it's easier to cite them as pages.) A tip of the virtual hat to Bill and Richard Chennault, his grandson and great-grandson from his romance with Anna Mae Griffin, and to Corey Stewart at NARA's St Louis office, for leading me to this biographical treasure. I'm also working from a PDF of medical files provided by Anna Mae's great-grandson, some of them not duplicated in the NARA file.

To be sure, record-keeping a century ago was not as meticulous as today's, and the US Army had to take Chennault at his own valuation, including his birth date of September 1890, three years before the fact. (The military would finally correct it in 1958.) With his Army application in front of me, I now wonder if this was when he tweaked the year of his birth: if he seemed three years older, people would be less likely to wonder at his swift ascent from schoolboy to teacher-principal.

For more, see the Annals of the Flying Tigers

And other good stuff for November

Yes, Top Gun: Maverick is a great flick. It's both wonderfully old-fashioned (the Americans are the good guys, and the good guys win) and completely up to date (lots of Diversity and computer-generated action). The DVD is available now, and you can stream it for as little as $4.99 on Amazon Prime. For more about that -- and for reviews of Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor and The Commanders: The Leadership Journeys of George Patton, Bernard Montgomery, and Erwin Rommel -- see the Warbird's Book Club.

Sally and I continue to audit Timothy Snyder's spellbinding course on how Ukraine (and Putin's war) came to be. There are now fourteen lectures on YouTube. Go to youtu.be/bJczLlwp-d8 for the introductory lecture, which has been viewed more than 767,000 times. It's a lot of work, and I have a great deal of respect for the Yale students who are attending these classes in real time and, I trust, doing the reading. For more information, see Prof Snyder's Substack channel, which includes a link to his useful article in The New Yorker in April.

Blue skies and Slava Ukraini! (Glory to Ukraine!) -- Daniel Ford. You can send humanitarian aid through Razom for Ukraine (a 501c3 charity). Or support the military through the National Bank of Ukraine.

And welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more:
The Warbird's Book Club
Daniel Ford’s books
The Piper Cub Forum

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

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