Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty


CAF pilots with

The handsome gent standing front and center is Chow Shi-lin of the Republic of China Air Force in the early 1960s, when the CAF was flying the F-84 Thunderjet. They later transitioned to the Lockeed F-104 Starfighter. In January 1967, four CAF 104Gs intercepted eight MIG-19s of the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force over the disputed island of Kinmen. Two MIGs were shot down at the cost of one Starfighter lost with its pilot. (I think that Chow Shi-lin was one of the pilots on the winning side.) Now 99, Major General Chow formerly lived in the US but went home to Taiwan eight years ago. The photo was sent to me by his granddaughter, who is looking for a museum home for the general's diaries and memorabilia. (Email me if you have a suggestion, and I will pass it along.)

And not to be forgotten: Anna Chan Chennault, widow of the much older General Claire Chennault, founder of the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers, who died at the end of March at her home in Washington, DC.

The ebook of Cowboy: The Interpreter Who Became a Soldier, a Warlord, and One More Casualty of Our War in Vietnam released on May 1, and the print edition actually beat it to the Amazon store at least. I met Cowboy (born Y Kdruin Mlo, grew up as Philippe Drouin, and changed to "Philip" when the Americans came along) in June 1964. I used him as a character in Incident at Muc Wa, a role reprised by Evan Kim in the movie version. More recently I began to wonder where this flamboyant young man had come from and what became of him. It turned out to be a fascinating story, and one that in many ways could stand as a parable of what we call the Vietnam War but Vietnamese remember as "the American War." The book is a small one but is, I think, a great read. At Amazon stores worldwide, or go here for more options.

Also featured this month are The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by the wonderfully named Simon Sebag Montefiori, and the new online magazine Vietnam which in its free inaugural issue tackles the dubious historiography of Ken Burns and the Public Broadcasting System. For my take on them, visit the Warbird's Book Club.

And go to the Annals of the Flying Tigers for a May 6 AVG talk and exhibit in Connecticut, and to the Annals of Vietnam for a chat with Jim Morris about Vietnam, Special Forces, and coping with what came after. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

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
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: