Richard F. "Dick" Millan would like to rewrite the history of
World War II.
At least, he feels that portion of the history dealing with
China's fight against the invading Japanese should more accurately
reflect some of the significant advances in aerial warfare made
"China was given cast-off airplanes, the airplanes nobody else
in the world wanted, and using American volunteers managed to tie up
half the Japanese war effort," Millan said. "When (Lt. Gen. Claire)
Chennault went over there as a volunteer to help the Chinese, he
took this equipment and showed how to use it, developing
fighter-bomber tactics that are in use today.
"When the Americans entered the war, the Chinese received,
again, the cast-off airplanes, the C-46s, as cargo planes and we
developed tactics for air supplying front-line troops. Before that,
everything (resupply and troop transport) had been done by ship or
by truck. But we showed them how it could be done.
"Nobody else was able to do this. The Germans found out how
hard it is, they couldn't supply troops 70 miles away at Stalingrad,
but we were supplying troops in China from our bases in India."
Millan, a soft-spoken retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel,
is not speaking from an academic historian viewpoint; he speaks
from experience. He was a C-46 pilot flying "the Hump" between
India and China during World War II, so he knows first-hand the
tactics developed during that continuous airlift operation.
"These tactics were so good, the Americans used them a few years
later during the Berlin Airlift after the Russians closed surface
corridors leading into West Berlin," he said. "Many of the Hump
pilots also flew in that airlift."
Lobbying for more recognition for Hump pilots is not something
new to Millan, who is coordinator for the warbird, or World War II
aircraft display and demonstrations, for Aerospace America.
But now the Oklahoma City man is in a position to make his
feelings public and people are willing to listen, because he heads
the 10,000-member CBI Hump Pilots Association, made up of aircrewmen
who served in the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II.
With his new job, which he will hold until the 1990 reunion late
next summer, Millan also is involved with international diplomacy,
negotiating with the People's Republic of China to erect a monument
to the Americans in Yunan Province.
"I'm not sure just where the negotiations stand right now, but
I'm pretty sure we'll get to put up a monument there," Millan said.
"Yunan province is in western China, probably the most remote
province in the whole country. That's where the American Volunteer
Group (better known as the Flying Tigers) operated from before
America entered the war."
Even after the United States' entry into the Pacific war,
American aircrews were stationed at several bases in Yunan province
and were supplied by bases in India. Thus the aerial resupply route
over the Himalaya Mountians, known as the Hump.
The association began negotiating to place a marker in Yunan
province after a similar marker was placed at the Air Force Museum
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.
"We were the first unit to place a marker there," Millan said.
"Now just about every other unit in the U.S. Army Air Forces of
World War II has a marker there.
"What's so special about ours is that it is made from a rock
taken from Yunan province, which was shipped to us by members in Red