The Commerce Journal

Local News

July 4, 2014

County Commissioners rename highway section

COMMERCE — The Hunt County Commissioners Court has voted to rename a portion of a major highway in honor of a hero of World War II.

The commissioners passed a resolution June 24, designating State Highway 24, between Interstate 30 at the 101 mile marker and State Highway 11 in the City of Commerce, as the “Flying Tiger Memorial Highway.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Latham said the measure was in remembrance of Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault.

“General Chennault was born in Commerce,” Latham said.

Chennault best known for his leadership of the American “Flying Tigers” and the Republic of China Air Force in World War II. Chennault was famous for providing aid to China during the conflict 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.

According to Wyman Williams, director of Development College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Texas 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 and the Campbell City Council.

“Otha Spencer was one of his pilots,” Latham said of the late Commerce resident and professor emeritus at East Texas State University, which is now Texas A&M University-Commerce.

A similar push to honor Chennault’s work was made in 1968 by Spencer, who wrote a book about his experiences flying The Hump with Chennault.

Although Chennault’s family moved to Louisiana shortly after his birth, where he was raised, Latham said his birthplace in the City of Commerce is a destination for overseas tourists.

“He is a deity in China,” Latham said. “There is not a school child there who graduates who does not know the story of Chennault.”

It is believed the highway designation will help encourage more tourists interested in Chennault’s legacy to visit Commerce.

The resolution passed by a unanimous vote of the commissioners.

Commerce Journal reporter Joseph Hamrick contributed to this report.

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