Original Flying Tigers meet at Moody - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Original Flying Tigers meet at Moody

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

November 7, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The greatest generation met the latest generation of flying tigers.

The 23rd Fighter Group, known as the Flying Tigers, were dog fighting in China before World War II began.

Today, they're one of the most prominent groups of fighter pilots in military history.

Many of the surviving pilots were at Moody Air Force this week to relive their glory days and meet the airmen who carry on their legacy.

"I did something wrong in China. Most the time the Japs were behind me and that's very terrifying," says 88 year-old Harvey "Nightmare" Elling.

He was a fighter pilot in World War II. He remembers those moments like they were yesterday.

"There was only one thing I wanted to do in life was to become a fighter pilot," Elling says.  "I said that's for me. I've got to do that some day. I'm just a little ole farm boy but I'm going to do it. Well, I did it."

He not only lived his dream but helped form an elite Air Force Unit, the Flying tigers.

They are honored to see that legacy has lived on at Moody Air Force Base.

"We walk one foot off the ground while we are here with the new 23rd Wing," Elling says.  "They are going to perpetuate the mission of the 23rd and an old warrior can get happy about that."

The airmen are equally as thrilled to meet the legendary men who began a historic Air Force heritage and honored to carry on the tradition.

"Its been a total honor. Just being in the same room, in the presence of all those men, what they've done not only for our country but everything, all the people they've helped around the world. It's just really cool," says Airman First Class William Chennault.