A portion of Highway 24 will soon share a piece of history that extends all the way to China.
In conjunction with the East Texas War and Memory Project (ETWMP), Texas A&M University-Commerce and the city of Commerce, Highway 24, from exit 101 on Interstate 30 through the north side of Commerce, will be named after the late Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault’s famous World War II “Flying Tigers” fighter squadron.
According to Wyman Williams, director of Development College of Business and Entrepreneurship at A&M-Commerce, the only thing left in order to rename the highway the “Flying Tiger Memorial Highway” are signatures from the Texas Department of Transportation, the Campbell City Council and the Hunt County Commissioners Court. Chennault was famous for providing aid to China during WWII when he and his men flew The Hump, a name pilots used for the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains where pilots flew to resupply the Chinese war effort.
A similar push to honor Chennault’s work was made in 1968 by the late Commerce resident Otha Spencer, who also flew The Hump in WWII and wrote a book about his experiences.
Williams said he wants to honor what Spencer achieved by recognizing the importance Chennault has in the international community.
After visiting with Chinese visitors, Williams learned how well known Chennault is in China.
Chennault was commemorated with a statue that stands in China for his work, not only during WWII, but also for his aid after the war,
“That’s important, especially in China and Taiwan,” he said.
To help inform the residents of Commerce of the impact Chennault had on the international community, another Texas Historical Marker to be placed beside the current one at his birthplace on 1501 Monroe Street, will be the first marker in history to be written in Chinese.