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|Wellspring Alliance salutes Chennaults, The Hill|
The late Gen. Claire Lee Chennault's family will be recognized Saturday as this year's historical family by The Wellspring Alliance for Families.
The Wellspring Alliance each year recognizes several outstanding families in the community during its annual Celebrate the Family event. The group also selects one family to be recognized as a historical family.
Nell Calloway, Chennault's granddaughter, said her family was honored to be recognized. She hopes the recognition will draw more attention to Chennault's life and encourage others to visit the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum to learn more about many of the community's local veterans.
Calloway says there are many people in northeastern Louisiana who do not know about Chennault, one of the area's "hometown heroes."
"I'm very shocked that a lot of people don't know who Gen. Chennault was and the significance of his career," Calloway said. "I hope this recognition will let people know of his accomplishments."
"He is well known in China, but to be recognized in northeast Louisiana is really great," she said. "He loved Louisiana. It's nice to see his accomplishments being recognized, especially from the area he is from."
"We want people to realize he is not another name for a museum," she added. "He is a home-grown hero."
Calloway is more excited that her grandmother, Nell, Chennault's wife, will be recognized and honored during the event.
"It's nice his wife is being recognized," Calloway said. "She was the power behind the man. She had eight children and being in the military, they moved everywhere, so it was so tough on her."
Chennault's children also will be honored at Saturday's 14th annual Celebrate the Family event.
"It's special, and it's really special for my mother because she was the youngest when he left (in World War II). It's given them a sense of pride to know he's being recognized," Calloway said of Chennault's children.
Sarah Johnson of The WellSpring said this year's outstanding families "embody what makes a strong family. In them, you can also see how those strong families contribute to a strong community."
Regarding the Chennault family, Johnson said, "Chennault is probably one of the most familiar names in this part of the state, but not everyone knows all the family has done to exemplify support of each other, community and country. Gen. Chennault is well known nationally and internationally as a WWII hero and tactical genius for aerial combat.
However, his children and grandchildren have followed in his footsteps as well with both military and community service. Of particular interest here in northeast Louisiana is their role in helping to found the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. This fabulous facility tells the story of history through the lives of the men and women who contributed to it. The museum is a treasure for our area and state, and the Chennault family was pivotal in helping bring this facility to life."
The University of Louisiana-Monroe's mascot and team name, "Warhawks," was also chosen due to the rich aviation history in northeast Louisiana, which Chennault helped put on the map. According to the ULM description about the mascot and team name, the "lightning bolt is a reference to aviation imagery, similar to that found on WWII aircraft. The Warhawk has local historical connections to the P-40 Warhawk airplane, flown by northeast Louisiana's Gen. Claire Chennault and the Flying Tigers during WWII."
The Hill radio station will receive the Corporate Award Saturday. Each year, The Wellspring recognizes a business that emphasizes a family atmosphere and supports employees' roles as family members.
"The Hill and the irrepressible Rick Godley are well known for their generous support of many organizations and causes in the area, including The Wellspring and Big Brothers Big Sisters among many others," Johnson said. "The Center for Children and Families nominated them because The Hill has for years gone above and beyond to help inspire volunteers to step up and stand up for abused children served by CFCF."
For all the local families nominated and picked this year, Johnson said, "Each of the winning families demonstrates the characteristics of an outstanding family such as communicating and listening, and sharing responsibility. What they also have in common that led to their being singled out for recognition is how their family bonds helped them overcome adversity or reach out to other families through community service that's lasted throughout their lives. These are some truly incredible families — they are among our greatest assets here in northeast Louisiana and they should be recognized for the wonderful gift they are to each other and all of us."
For photos of the Chennault family, read this week's edition of The Ouachita Citizen.