Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sewing the AVG blood chit on the inside of my jacket was a good idea

because I have some control over who sees it.

There is a pretty good sized Chinese population in my neck of the woods. I think one of the Chinese here think I'm a former AVG pilot or something.

This started when I had my pickup fixed. There is a Chinese restaurant next to the dealers and I wandered in for a snack while my truck was being worked on. When I sat I put my jacket on the back of my chair with the inside facing out. The waiter took one look at it and called the woman that runs it. 

She came over instantly and read it and then asked me if she could take a picture of it. Of course she could. Then I asked her for a translation and she pointed out the characters to me, one by one.

"I am an American airman. My plane is destroyed. I cannot speak your language. I am an enemy of the Japanese. Please give me food and take me to the nearest Allied military post.
You will be rewarded."

The above is the generally accepted translation but it's actually different. Chinese is a string of characters that leaves the reader to put together the story. It is a damned difficult language to learn and it appears to me that it's kind of clumsy and needs the reader to put the story together.

I've had this translated three times by three different Chinese around here. They all seem to agree on the meanings of the various characters on the blood chit. What they differ in slightly is the final translation but they all come up with the general idea.

The Chinese I have dealt with are all from the mainland and the first thing they saw is that the flag is of Taiwan. Today it is. But back between 1928 and 1949 it was the flag of the Republic of China.

It was before China became the present day People's Republic of China.

It takes a few minutes for a Chinese to figure out that this isn't a Taiwanese blood chit, but one worn by fliers in the mainland.

The reason a lot of guys sewed the blood chit on the inside of their jackets was threefold. First nobody wants to be running around the countryside with a big, red target on their back. It would have made too good of a point of hold for a Japanese rifleman. Secondly the flier wanted control of who he could show it to if he were in questionable territory. The third reason is that if he had the bottom and two sides sewn and left the top open he could use it as an inside pocket for escape maps and the like.

I sewed mine on this way to be able to carry frequency cards when I run my ham radio in the portable mode.

Yesterday I was visiting someone that lives in a town house and the neighbors are Chinese. I saw  a trio of older Chinese wandering around the grounds and showed them the blood chit.

They took the time to read it and a conversation in Chinese took place and one woman headed off toward the house. The other woman looked at me and said, "No English". Incidentally she did NOT say, "No Engrish." She pronounced her L correctly. 

Then I realized these were visitors of the Chinese resident and  spoke no English. A moment later the woman that left returned with the Chinese neighbor that lives there. She speaks damned good English.

Apparently the three older Chinese can't count very well because I guess they thought I was a Flying Tiger and hence some kind of hero. The resident woman laughed and told them I wasn't that old and that the chit had likely come from a relative of mine.

Actually it didn't come from a relative. However, as a kid I met one or the guys that flew in China with Chennault and later in the Pacific with the Air Corps. My dad later said he was probably a pre-war screw-up that was given an opportunity to redeem himself by flying for China. Many guys, including 'Pappy' Boyington were.

Anyway, I got invited for dinner by the resident. That's pretty unusual if you ask me. I did beg off by explaining that I was leaving town soon and had too much to do but maybe when I got back.

My chopstick skills are poor and it probably would have been embarrassing so it was for the best.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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