The closing strains of the Flying Tiger March performed by the Texas A&M-Commerce Band greeted the Ross Volunteer Group as they presented the colors at the historical marker dedication to home town hero, Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault. Claire Chennault was born in Commerce in 1893.
Captain Chennault had retired from the US Army Air Corps prior to the United States entering World War II beginning in 1941. He became an advisor to China in assisting that country to build an air force due to the imminent threat of a Japanese invasion. He organized the American Volunteer Group (AVG) in 1941 to defend the Burma Road, the life line to China. The group flew P-40 Warhawks and compiled an unequaled record in air combat that destroyed over 299 enemy aircraft with a loss of 12 from the AVG. The group was known as the Flying Tigers. Chennault rose to the rank of Lt. General while commanding the Flying Tigers.
The modest home at 1501 Monroe Street in Commerce is the birthplace of General Chennault. The new marker placed today has two Mandarin translations of the text on the 1968 historical marker to make it more accessible to a global audience. Texas A&M-Commerce draws citizens from around the globe to visit the campus.
A restored P-40 Warhawk from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum flew several low passes over the university and Commerce as the marker was unveiled.