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|'We're not going to let it be forgotten'|
WWII veterans hope to keep memories alive through Chinese journalists
Dr. Ben Roy Shumway will never forget the nightmares of war and his time as a pilot in the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II.
When he was asked to tell his story to journalists from China Central Television, he had second thoughts.
Shumway, who now lives in Shreveport, crashed fighting in what has been called the forgotten theater of WW II. He suffered extensive injuries.
While he had reservations about talking with the Chinese journalists, he wanted to participate in the documentary so others would never forget that battle in WWII.
Shumway was one of several veterans who were interviewed by Chinese journalists this week at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum. All veterans interviewed served in China during WWII.
"I think it's great that the Chinese people are trying to educate their people about the forgotten war, which was the China-Burma-India war," Shumway said.
"I also think it's good for the relationship between China and the United States," Shumway continued. "I think more understanding is needed of our cultures. I'm hoping and praying that this will benefit our relationship, not only with China, but with other people throughout the world."
Shumway spent 29 months flying in the China-Burma-India Theater.
"It was very, very difficult," Shumway said, recounting his experiences. "In fact, I would like to end this as soon as possible."
Shumway donated his flight jacket to the museum, which is on display today.
"That jacket has a lot of unpleasant memories," he said.
Today, Shumway is a doctor of psychology. He often volunteers at the veteran's hospital in Shreveport.
"We're getting a lot of the young boys (from Iraq) coming in now with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)," Shumway said. "I'm 100 percent with PTSD myself.
"I've had plastic surgery to my face because one night I thought I was jumping out of my plane, and I jumped out of my bed into my dresser, and cut my face," Shumway explained. "It's hard to bring back all of these memories, but I would like the public to know … that was the forgotten war, but we're not going to let it be forgotten."
He believes the documentary will help educate not only Chinese children, but students in the U.S. about the China-Burma-India War.
"Without it, we wouldn't have won the war," he said. "Without the Flying Tigers, we wouldn't have won the war. We actually saved China from the invasion of the Japanese."
CCTV has interviewed more than 200 people about their experiences as soldiers and civilians during the Japanese invasion.
Those interviews are part of CCTV's "Oral History Project," which will be broadcast in China and archived in research libraries.
Simone Fan Wright, a member of the CCTV crew, said the journalists wanted to learn about the personal stories and experiences from WW II.
"The Chinese people have never forgotten how the American people helped us during a difficult time, and we appreciate Louisiana, which gave us such great heroes," Wright said.
Nell Calloway is director of Chennault Aviation & Military Museum. She also is a granddaughter of Gen. Claire Chennault, who commanded pilots in Southeast Asia during WW II.
"This is a very big event for our museum, our city and our country," Calloway said. "This documentary will show the relationship between the Chinese and Americans during one of the most turbulent times in Chinese history."
"I think we've had a great few days," she said. "They've gotten a lot of material and talked with a lot of our veterans."
Calloway also is excited veterans of the China-Burma-India Theater are being honored in the documentary.
"They are important to our country, and there always will be a need for them," Calloway continued. "Their stories are important because there always will be wars. These men have experienced things that we would like to think our future generations would never experience.
"Unfortunately, they probably will experience it. So, by them telling their stories, they'll help to teach our kids that they can survive things. It was war, but they made the most of it. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be standing here today."