Flying Tigers and the AVG
A Brief History: John Richard “Dick” Rossi was an original member of the famed American Volunteer Group (AVG), also known as the Flying Tigers, an all volunteer unit that helped defend China against Imperial Japan (with tacit approval from the US government) prior to America’s involvement in WWII. Originally a naval aviator, Rossi resigned his commission in 1941 to join the AVG, which was under the command of then-Colonel Claire Chennault and flew the now famous shark-nosed P-40 in combat with the First Pursuit Squadron (Adam & Eve) as well as detached combat duty with the Second and Third Squadrons; he became an ace and was credited with 6.25 kills. When the AVG was disbanded in 1942, Rossi joined the China National Aviation Corporation, flying supplies from India to China. By the time the war was over he had flown a record 735 trips across the Himalayas (also known as the “Hump”).
After the war, Rossi founded the freight carrier company the Flying Tiger Line, and flew as a captain for 25 years, logging a lifetime of over 25,000 flight hours before retiring. He was also the president of the Flying Tigers Association for sixty years until his passing in 2008. He is the recipient of many awards from the Chinese government and has earned numerous medals and citations from the US government, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses. The AVG was inducted into the Confederate Air Force Hall of Fame in 1998.
The Jacket: In November of 2003 Dick Rossi, a longtime friend and customer of US Wings, and other members of the AVG
Flying Tigers, were invited to attend the Zhijiang Peace and Culture Festival held in Zhijiang township in Hunan Province, China. At the newly opened Flying Tigers Museum in Zhijiang, Dick Rossi donated his G-1 jacket, a reproduction of the jacket he wore as a member of the AVG. This jacket, which was custom-made for Mr. Rossi by US Wings and hand painted by artist Jim Harley a number of years prior, is now
On display in the Zhijiang museum. The museum once served as the operations center and control tower at the airfield and commemorates the AVG in their defense of China. Zhijiang was the site where Japanese troops surrendered to Chinese and American forces on August 21, 1945.
The following is a letter from Lydia Rossi (wife of Dick Rossi) to David Hack, CEO of US Wings…
Dick Rossi, who is the president of the Flying Tigers Association, was the proud wearer of one of your jackets that had been customized for him about ten or more years ago. It had the AVG insignia, the First Pursuit Squadron, his name, a blood chit, etc.
We recently had a wonderful trip through China. The Chinese government has decided that the AVG Flying Tigers represent the best example of friendship between the US and China that has ever existed. They have been giving the Flying Tigers lots of publicity and the members who were on the trip were treated as huge heroes.
Dick wore his jacket on this trip where it was quite a show stopper. It was photographed extensively (was all over the newspapers) and was quite admired even though we explained that it was a replica – not original.
When we were in the city of Zhijiang we were taken to a museum they have set up in a building which once served as General Chennault’s headquarters. While there, Dick was approached by the director of the museum who asked him to donate his jacket to the museum. We were a little shocked at first, but then decided it would be for the best – so they arranged a very nice ceremony, complete with lots of press, and Dick handed over the jacket to the Secretary General of the province. I have sent you three photos.
We would like to replace that jacket. Please tell us if you still make this type and if you still have the information about it, and how much it would cost to have a new one.
Thank you so much,
January 15, 2004
The letter reads…
Wow! Thanx! The jacket is beautiful and a perfect fit. I will enjoy showing it off.
It was very nice of you to send the jacket. As soon as Lydia and I get around to it, we will be able to send you some photos of me wearing it.
All the best!