Margaret Chung was the first-known American-born Chinese woman physician. During World War II she was a strong advocate of the U.S. position in the defense of freedom, especially supporting China against Japan. With that, even prior to Pearl Harbor and the official U.S. entry into the war, came her strong views in support of the Flying Tigers.
Almost any investigation or search into the background or history of Dr. Margaret "Mom" Chung, serious or otherwise, invariably brings up a repetition of many of the same facts. The majority stemming from the same basic foundation of information, then apparently uncreatively copied over-and-over, repeated and re-worded ad infinitum. However, one person, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, went to the original source and, although what she wrote is similar to most of the rest you read, hers is not copied from them, if anything, they are copied from her. The following by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu cuts to the quick and rather than remake the wheel I will just present a synopsis of what she has to say about Dr. Chung then move on with what I have to say:
Margaret Chung was born in 1889 in Santa Barbara, the eldest of 11 children. Her parents became invalids when she was very young, and she was forced to support the family by the age of 10. She first drove a horse-drawn freight wagon and then, as a seventh-grader, worked 12-hour days in a Chinese restaurant. The family moved to Ventura, and then to Los Angeles. She put herself through college and medical school by winning scholarships, selling medical supplies and lecturing on China. Dr. Chung went on to provide medical care for American G.I.'s during World War II and adopted more than 1,000 "fair-haired bastards," as she called her American G.I. sons.
During World War II, because of her strong advocacy and rising popularity she fell into the popular lexicon of the day, with even comic books championing her cause, re the following:
MEETING DR. CHUNG:
Four years following the end of World War II, on the occasion of my birthday in April of 1949, and still very much a young boy, my brand new Stepmother together with my grandparents, i.e., the parents of my mother who after a long illness passed away a few years prior, arranged for me to meet one of my then favorite all time childhood heroes, the cowboy-western movie star, Roy Rogers. My grandmother and grandfather during that period of their more-or-less retired lives, lived in the small California mountain community of Big Bear Lake. The two knew Andy Devine, legendary movie sidekick, who owned a sort of locals tavern on the road from Big Bear Village to Big Bear City. Through that connection, even though my stepmother and grandmother didn't get along appreciably well, for my sake, they put together a plan for me to meet Rogers --- a plan that in the end, for all involved, went off magnificently well.
My meeting with Rogers on the occasion of my birthday, the first of three eventual meetings, occurred the day he and his horse Trigger were having their footprints set into cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Three years after that I had graduated to meeting Albert Einstein.
About two months following that meeting with Rogers in April, just as school was out for the summer, which was sometime in early to mid June of 1949, than I, along with my two brothers and a few others, as found in The Tree and Franklin Merrell-Wolff, ended up living gently off the land like forest monks on the east side of the High Sierras under the auspices of my Uncle clear up until the start of the new school year in September.
On a couple of days to a week between that roughly two month period that transpired after having met Rogers but before going to the High Sierras, my stepmother and I boarded Southern Pacific's Daylight Limited to San Francisco from Los Angeles. Our objective? To meet Dr. Chung per my request. And we did, only doing so by going over to Sausalito for lunch. I brought a nearly pristine six year old issue of the Feb-Mar 1943 No. 9 Real Heroes with me, of which the above illustrated story on Dr. Chung appeared, and gave it to her, which impressed her to no end.
110 MPH SOUTHERN PACIFIC DAYLIGHT LIMITED 4-8-4 GS-4 NORTHERN
My stepmother meeting Dr. Chung in Sausalito wasn't the first time the two of them ever met. Actually, my stepmother had known her for quite sometime, at least as far back as the war. I just happened to be reading a book titled "The Lady and the Tigers" about the Flying Tigers when my stepmother and I met for the very first time. In conversation about the book she mentioned Dr. Chung in reference to the Flying Tigers, and it was from that mentioning --- and the comic book with Dr. Chung's story in it I carried around with me all the time --- that the meeting in Sausalito came about as I continued to harp on it until my stepmother just gave up and put the meeting into place.
"Before my stepmother and dad got married, every year she would go on weeks-long elaborate vacations, alternating them yearly between three locations. One year she would go to Hawaii, the next Mexico, and the third Canada's northwest territory. She mentioned one of those vacations to me when the two of us first met. After she noticed my interest in the Flying Tigers she told me that she had been on vacation in Mexico and while there had gone down to Mexico City. In Mexico City she had dinner with a 'former physician to Chennault's Flying Tigers named Dr. Margaret Chung' and two movie actresses, Virginia Hill and Sophie Tucker --- all of which was confirmed to me by her much later in my life. I did, however, have good cause to remember Virginia Hill, and not because she was said to have been a movie star but because of an incident that happened a few years later."
JOHNNY ROSELLI: Mafioso (Footnote )
UNDERBELLIES OR BELOW THE BELT?:
A lot of people who come across the above illustrated story here or elsewhere pretty much agree, in that it was published in 1943 during the height of all of the war hysteria during the early years, if it is not just pure war time propaganda it is at the most not much more than fluff or pablum. A majority of those people don't agree much with the well researched and critically acclaimed works of Judy Tzu-Chun Wu on Dr. Chung either, citing a lot of her tome is based on Dr. Chung's unpublished autobiography as found in the Margaret Chung Papers, 1880-1958 (bulk 1942-1944) in The Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley. Those same people think there is a much different side, a darker underbelly so to speak and cite numerous authors and publications as seen below. Without a whole lot of elaboration Judy Tzu-Chun Wu in her extensive research on Dr. Chung does not totally discount the possibility of such facets, albeit found mostly in her footnotes. Anyone who has read any of my works knows I am not diametrically opposed to underbellies or similar type entities, neither casting aspersions on them nor adversely judging them. All one has to do is visit my page on The El Rey Club or go to the depths of what I've written surrounding Phyllis Davis to find connections with brothels, prostitutes, and even warlords, not to mention me knowing Hollywood's most infamous madam Brenda Allen or onetime major mob heavyweight and Las Vegas kingpin Johnny Roselli.
As stated above, my stepmother telling me personally she met Dr. Chung in Mexico City along with two of the luminaries so listed in the quotes below tends to lend a certain amount of credibility for both Chung and Hill being together and being in Mexico City together to be sure. However, the above notwithstanding, shifting any meeting of my stepmother into some other mode places her in connection with the two others in a light I am not totally willing to accept as being accurate, having known my stepmother most of my formative years, in turn casting suspicion as to the contents of the paragraphs. Personally I see the quotes in a pretty much round robin sort of way, resembling a kind of creepy parroting that substantiates each other with a view resembling a Bootstrap Paradox more than anything. Besides, much of what is being said is filled with stretched out inaccuracies and half-truths. Re the following four examples:
"Virginia Hill bought a nightclub in Nuevo Laredo, and started smuggling heroin into Texas with a woman named Dr. Margaret Chung. Very important, Dr. Chung was a member of the drug smuggling Hip Sing Tong, which was pretty much the outlet for Chinese Nationalist heroin in the United States, and she was also the attending physician to the Flying Tigers, which was the private airline that the government formed to fly supplies to the Chinese Nationalists."
DAVID VALENTINE: CIA, Drug Trafficking, and the JFK Assassination
"Hill made frequent trips to Mexico City with Dr. Margaret Chung, an alleged prostitute and abortionist, honorary member of the Hip Sing Tong, and the attending physician to the Flying Tigers --- the private airline the US government formed to fly supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's forces in Kunming, a city described as infused with spies and opium."
The CIA and Drugs, Inc.: a Covert History
"The FBN by this time was aware that Margaret Chung, the attending physician to the pilots of Chennault's wartime airline, was involved with Bugsy Siegel's friend Virginia Hill 'in the narcotic traffic in San Francisco.'"
The Mistress and the Mafia The Virginia Hill Story
"After traveling extensively in South America, Hill put down roots in Mexico City where she formed a sexual relationship with the famous Dr. Margaret 'Mom' Chung. Chung, the first American born Chinese-American physician, gained notoriety in the 1930s and 1940 for her patriotic work with the Allied Forces, particularly Americans. Chung adopted literally thousands of American orphans, whom she encouraged to go into the armed forces and fight against the Japanese invasion of China. Besides Hill, Dr. Chung also had affairs with the writer Elsa Gidlow, and American entertainer Sophie Tucker, who was called 'The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.'"
Joe Bruno on the Mob - Virginia Hill - Part Five
TIGERS BUT NOT CATS:
Anyone with a little common sense of history would know that in no way were the Flying Tigers instituted or put into place, let alone operated for or as the private airline by the US government to fly supplies to Chiang Kai-shek. Nor were any of Dr. Chung's Fair Haired Bastards actually American orphans whom she adopted and encouraged to go into the armed forces and fight against the Japanese invasion of China, making some of the other accusations, inferred or otherwise, suspect.
However, that doesn't mean everything was coming up roses. If you scroll down to the fifth page of the illustrated article then go to the fourth panel you will see the first and only mention of the Flying Tigers. The next panel, the fifth that runs clear across the bottom of the page, implies but doesn't state anything about the Flying Tigers specifically. However, the caption has within its context that "Moms" boys got their wish and joined the Chinese Air Force flying over all parts of the world, even the Burma Road. If the implication isn't that Dr. Chung recruited them into the Chinese Air Force, i.e., the Flying Tigers, then I don't know what is. And that's the problem. It is all implication. Even Judy Tzu-Chun Wu questions some of the Chung material she researched. Over and over regarding Dr. Chung you come across something that reads like:
"She was personally responsible for covertly drafting over a hundred pilots to serve in the famous Flying Tigers squadron that served in China before America's entry into World War II."
The problem with such a scenario being remotely truthful is that the original Flying Tigers, that is the American Volunteer Group or as it was shortened to, the A.V.G., never had any sort of an immediate need for "hundreds of pilots" because, even though they may have wanted, liked it, or even wished for it, they never had hundreds of planes nor the infrastructure or money to build, support, or operate such an organization. The following is found in Chennault and his Flying Tigers:
"Under the command of Chennault, whose tactical understanding of Japanese fighter planes accounted for much of the AVG's success, the unit was based in Kunming, Yunnan province, China. It served in combat from December 1941 until July 1942, entering the history books as the most effective and respected fighter plane unit in the history of warfare. The Curtiss Tomahawk P-40, with its iconic fierce shark teeth and glaring eyes, is one of the most recognizable fighters in aviation history. The AVG never had more than 50 combat-ready planes at a time, never more than 24 in the air at once and never more than 70 pilots ready to fly."
Dick Rossi, an original on-the-ground, or in-the-air A.V.G. pilot as the case may be, from the very inception of the organization to it's end, provides a much more thorough coverage on the same subject, i.e., readiness, record, and results of the A.V.G., as found at the source so cited:
"We were in actual combat for seven months; we had less than 300 people. As of Dec 2, 1941, there were 82 pilots and of the original 100 P-40s sent out to Chennault, 78 remained with 62 in commission, 68 with radios and 60 with armament. There were shortages of just about everything and no spare parts to speak of. The group has a confirmed count of 297 enemy aircraft destroyed with another 150 probable. Our losses were 4 pilots lost in aerial combat, 7 shot down and killed by anti-aircraft fire during strafing runs, 8 killed in operational and training accidents unrelated to enemy action. Four were MIA and of those 3 were found to be POWs. Three died from Japanese bombing raids. One was shot down and seen alive, but no word as to his fate. The American Fighter Aces Association confirms 20 AVG pilots as Aces with another 6 pilots achieving Ace status during the next few years."
A Flying Tiger's Story
In the book Doctor Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity, linked below, a fairly pro leaning albeit truthful book about Dr. Chung, the author, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, previously cited, has strong reservations on the subject herself, writing, as found in one of the footnotes:
"Chung's involvement in recruiting pilots for what would become known as the Flying Tigers is yet to be confirmed by other sources. She explained that her activities were so secret that even 'Central Aircraft Company which was the agency for sending men out [did not know] I was sending recruits.' Even General Claire Chennault, the head of the Flying Tigers and one of Chung's sons, did not know of her role. In fact Flying Tiger Dick Rossi, another son, denies her involvement in his recruitment. Despite the lack of supporting evidence, the details that she recounts suggest the possibility of truth."
As for Virginia Hill or any underbelly thereof that may or may not have existed, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, in a footnote to the final chapter in her book, "EPILOGUE: There Will Never Be Another Mom Chung," writes:
"Chung was drawn to figures in the underworld. She not only had a penchant for 'queer' speakeasies, Chung also became friends with actress Virginia Hill, the girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel."(see)
The author of the oft cited Doctor Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity, Dr. Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Professor and Chair, Asian American Studies School of Humanities, University of California, Irvine, can be reached via email at j.wu@UCI.edu
CAT: BUT NOT TIGERS
Regarding any possibility of a private airline the US government may have formed to fly supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's forces in Kunming or the rest of free China and involving Chennault is questionable. During the war until it's end, in the China-Burma-India theater, air transport into China, over the Hump, was provided by United States Army Air Force units Assam-Burma-China Ferry Command and Air Transport Command India-China Wing, neither of which, except on the receiving end for aircraft, parts, materials and supplies, was Chennault involved.(see)
No sooner had World War II ended than two air transport or cargo-like airlines sprang up that people have a tendency to fuse together via Chennault and the Flying Tigers. Although often confused, both were separate airlines each with totally different missions with neither being related to each other in any way.
One of the two, Flying Tigers Airlines, was created by a group of former A.V.G. pilots in the United States with world-wide or international service in mind. The other was formed by Claire Chennault with service directed only toward anti-communist or free China in mind. In 1946 Chennault, along with a partner named Whiting Willauer arranged for a loan to purchase 19 World War II surplus cargo planes, consisting of both C-47s and C-46s. They then rounded up a group of free-floating left over ex-military personnel to maintain and fly them, including a couple of former Flying Tiger pilots. On the last day of January 1947, Chennault's new airline, given the name Civil Air Transport, or CAT for short, flew their first load of cargo, lifting off out of Canton for points west. It was Chennault's Civil Air Transport, that had within its ranks former Flying Tigers, both ground crew and pilots, operating all over China but no farther east than Hawaii or farther south than Manila, that Dr. Chung was an attending physician to, if at all.
In October 1949 when the Communists forced Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists to evacuate to Taiwan, Chennault and CAT went with them, but not before he lost 73 of his aircraft to the Communists. A few months later, out of money and operating on a shoestring, when war broke out in Korea Chennault sold what was left of his Civil Air Transport to the CIA. After Korea the CIA used CAT to help the French at Dien Bien Phu then expanded into Vietnam, Laos and the rest of Southeast Asia as they saw fit. It is that onetime short three year ownership of CAT by Chennault fighting Communists in China before selling it in 1950 that keeps coming back to haunt him as being connected to the CIA. Chennault died July 27, 1958, eight years after he sold his airline and well before any major covert escalation of CAT into Southeast Asia. For more on CAT please go to the following link. Note within the text of the article the high interest rate, 10%, demanded of Chennault to obtain the initial loan, and of which he agreed to. In an attempt to put into place a second loan later, the group of Chinese investors he approached demanded a 40 per cent ownership in the company, none of which conjures up a concerted effort by a government, U.S. or otherwise, to own or run the airline while Chennault was in charge of it.
CAT HISTORY PROJECT
MEETING HER SON ROBERT
Following my attempt to grab off an undergraduate degree on the G.I. Bill after my hitch in the military, and of which I was eventually able to do, receiving both a B.A. and a California Secondary Teaching Credential, which required an additional fifth year beyond a bachelors as well as student teaching, I was spending some time kicking back getting caught up on some travel, visiting friends, and participating in a few off the books non-curricular activities. In doing so I was in the process of waiting in the San Francisco International Airport for the next available flight out after having missed my connection because of a late flight in, when I noticed a young G.I. wearing Signal Corps insignia also seemingly lost in a waiting mode.
Having been in the Army and the Signal Corps and judging by his demeanor he was on his way back from being in-county I offered to buy him a drink. He told me he would love to except he wasn't 21, a response that practically floored me. Settling for cokes he told me he was indeed on his way back from Nam, headed toward duty in Germany after having spent some time in Hawaii. We talked about Nam and stuff, him telling me he had been stationed with the 1st Signal Brigade at the communication facility on Vung Chua Mountain overlooking Qui Nhon right above the South China sea. I told him I had been to a similar site a few times while in the Signal Corp called Nui Ba Den, the Black Virgin Mountian. We talked a bit about a onetime top secret communication site which was kind of the same albeit in Laos, called Lima Site 85 on Phou Phathi mountain that got hit pretty hard, with me telling him as for Lima Sites, except for LS 20A and LS 118A at Nam Yu I didn't know much about them. In a chit-chat sort of way the two of us hit it off fairly well, although it was easy to tell by his tone that he wasn't really into any of it, that is, the Army, Signal Corps, Viet Nam, or much of anything else.
By his decorations I could tell he had along with others, both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, of which we talked a little about both, although not unusually so, he wasn't really forthcoming about either --- even with me being a fellow G.I. and all. His name tag read that his last name was Hauser and knowing a person with the same last name, in small talk I asked if he was related in any way to Mary Hauser, AKA Mary Davis, owner of the Portofino Inn located at King Harbor marina in Redondo Beach. Saying no, his dad, also named Hauser, was actually a German national ski champion having participated in the Olympics several times. With that, even though I didn't say anything, I suddenly knew who he was. He was the son of Virginia Hill.
Virginia Hill was a major mob moll, primarily known for her long term on-and-off relationship as the girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel. In 1950, three years after Siegel was shot to death in her home in California she married a non-mob person giving birth to her only child, a boy given the name Robert, and as a grown man the same person I had been talking to in the San Francisco airport. His mother was found dead in an apparent suicide a few years before our meeting from an overdose of sleeping pills near Salzburg, Austria. Robert was killed in an auto accident, said to have occurred under mysterious circumstances, in Toulouse, France, in 1994. For more see the VIRGINIA HILL: PART ONE link below, continuing to Part Two etc., etc.
AND NOW THIS:
On the day my stepmother mentioned Dr. Chung and she saw my avid interest in "The Lady and the Tigers" she loaned me her personal signed copy as I was leaving. I read it over-and-over, almost to the point of it becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years. At the same time she also gave me a second book, Damned to Glory by Robert L. Scott. Scott was a World War II double ace flying first for the Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group (A.V.G.), then continuing on with them when they morphed over into the Army Air Force. I know I don't say a lot about Damned to Glory throughout most of my works, always it seems going on-and-on about The Lady and the Tigers, but that's because most of what I write about when it comes to P-40s has to do with the Flying Tigers. Robert L. Scott is usually used in conjunction with the P-40 Ghost Ship.
Although meeting Dr. Chung through my stepmother was successful it should be noted that any and all attempts by me on my part to meet the author of "The Lady and the Tigers," Olga Greenlaw, who had been with the Flying Tigers from day one and who my stepmother knew as well --- and who just lived a short distance across town from my stepmother --- no matter how hard I tried, it never came to pass. Somehow bad blood had developed between the two of them in some fashion making any connection impossible to arrange. After my dad and stepmother got married and my brothers and I moved into her compound in the West Adams District of Los Angeles, on my own I took the streetcar and bus to Greenlaw's place in the Hollywood Hills hoping to catch up with her. A lady there told me she had moved to Tehachapi, whatever or where ever that was. I never did meet her, although one day many years later as a grown adult I did cross paths with her ex-husband in Baja Mexico. Her ex had been second in command of the Flying Tigers under Claire Chennault during the very first days when it was being formed into the the American Volunteer Group or A.V.G. until its ultimate demise in July of 1942 when it was absorbed into units of the United States Army Air Force.
THE LADY AND THE TIGERS
KUAN YIN: COMASSIONATE SAVIOURESS
CHIYONO: JAPAN'S FIRST FEMALE ZEN MASTER
PULYAN'S TEACHER: A FEMALE RAMANA WITHOUT A MOUNTAIN
VIRGINIA HILL: PART ONE
JANE MARTIN: WAR NURSE
MEETS THE FLYING TIGERS
(please click image)
CONGO BILL JOINS THE FLYING TIGERS
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
THE BOOTSTRAP PARADOX
The Bootstrap Paradox as it is so called, is a time-travel paradox wherein an object or information can exist without ever seeming to have been created. The object or piece of information in the future is taken back in time where, through the normal passage of time from the past to the future, it is retrieved to become the very object or piece of information that was brought back in the beginning.
THE BOOTSTRAP PARADOX
As found in the Elsa Gidlow Papers, 1898-1986 (bulk dates 1920-1986):
"Gidlow also describes her treasured experiences with Dr. Margaret Chung, the first known Chinese American female physician, who sometimes dressed in masculine clothes but whose sexuality has been a subject of debate. Chung, who lived and worked in Chinatown, was an object of affection for Gidlow: 'She interests me more profoundly than anyone I have met in San Francisco --- I do adore her. I could all too easily lose my head and heart to her.' When Gidlow left for a trip to France and said goodbye to Dr. Chung, Gidlow notes in her journal: 'She gave me a pint bottle of bourbon, and what I value many times more, a spontaneous kiss on the mouth. I had never dared to hope she would kiss me.'"(source)
SEE ALSO CITYWIDE HISTORIC CONTEXT STATEMENT FOR LGBTQ HISTORY IN SAN FRANCISCO:
ASSAM-BURMA-CHINA FERRY COMMAND AND AIR TRANSPORT COMMAND, INDIA-CHINA WING
The Air Transport Command was a world-wide military command that reported directly to the War Department in Washington, DC rather than to Theater Commanders. The Wing assigned the immediate responsibility of flying the Hump to the Assam-China Group, headquartered at Chabua Air Base in the Assam Valley.
In the spring of 1942, 10 Pan American DC-3s were detached from the Trans-African route and sent to India to airlift gasoline and other petroleum products to China to refuel the B-25 bombers for the upcoming Tokyo mission under Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle. The B-25s failed to arrive in China intact, and the Pan American airplanes joined a small force of Army C-47s that had just arrived in India in an airlift effort in support of the retreating Allied forces in Burma. The small group of transports would make up the nucleus of the 1st Ferrying Group, which would become part of Tenth Air Force, and assume initial responsibility for air transport operations across the Himalayan “Hump” to China.
Regular Hump operations began in May, 1942, with 27 aircraft and approximately 1,100 personnel from New Malir Air Base, a British base located in the Sind Desert about 20 miles east of Karachi in western India. The aircraft and personnel were members of the First Ferry Group, provided by the U. S. Army Air Forces Ferry Command. The Group was attached to the U. S. Army 10th Air Force, newly established in India and headquartered in New Delhi, for logistical support. Their first regular Hump operations crossed India and eventually jumped off for the Hump leg of their flights from Dinjan, a British Air Base located in the upper Assam Valley. During April and May approximately 96 tons of supplies were delivered to China.
The 1st Ferry Group moved to the Assam Valley in August of 1942 where several bases were still under construction for the Hump operation. Initially these operations were conducted on sod and steel mat airstrips. On December 1, 1942, the Air Transport Command (ATC), formed on 7/1/1942 from the Ferry Command, established an India-China Wing, also headquartered in New Delhi This ATC Wing was then assigned the primary mission of flying supplies over the Hump route to China. The first Wing commander was Colonel (later Brigadier General) Edward H. Alexander. The aircraft and support personnel of the 1st Ferry Group were transferred to this Wing.(source)