The Commerce Journal

Local News

July 18, 2013

Plaque to commemorate general’s service to China

COMMERCE — Texas’ first historical marker completely in a foreign language will be located in Commerce.

The marker will be identical to the plaque at 1501 Monroe Street marking Gen. Claire Chennault’s birthplace, but will be in Chinese characters.  Gen. Claire Chennault was a Commerce-born air strategist who is legendary for his genius aerial combat in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II.

At the request of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt allowed Chennault to recruit a group of volunteer airmen to defend China against the Japanese, forming the American Volunteer Group (AVG), later called “The Flying Tigers.” With tiger-shark teeth painted on the nose of their P-40 airplanes, the AVG changed the momentum of the war. The group disbanded on July 4, 1942, and in 1943, Chennault was placed in command of the 14th Air Force. He retired in 1945 and died in 1958. Chennault’s unorthodox concepts of air tactics helped his tiny band destroy 539 enemy aircrafts while losing only 90 themselves.

A date will be decided on for the placing of the marker once it is completed. Wyman Williams, director of development for the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University-Commerce, is working with Dr. James Conrad, who served 37 years as head of special collections and archivist for the university, to make the plaque a reality. The Texas Historical Commission has approved the marker and the Chinese student organization is working on the translation.

Inspiration for the translated plaque came when Williams and Conrad met a Chinese-American acupuncturist and his wife who came from Dallas to visit the current marker.

“This man who came out from Dallas was a fan of Chennault and had some original photos and artifacts,” Dr. Conrad said. “He came to the library and talked with Wyman who got me involved and while we were talking, the acupuncturist’s wife proposed the idea of making another plaque in Chinese characters next to the current marker.”

China and Taiwan have a great appreciation for Chennault and have many museums and memorials honoring him.

“Claire Chennault is a hero in China and Tawain for the advantage that was given by the formation of the flying tigers,” Williams said. “I was made aware of his popularity in Taiwan and China in recent months and think its important to show that in this area, starting with our own university. There will eventually be several things developed within the next year that will celebrate Claire Chennault but there are no dates set.”

These recent efforts to promote Chennault’s association with Commerce will, when complete, fulfill the dream of Otha C. Spencer. Spencer, who passed away last year, was professor emeritus of journalism at A&M-Commerce and served in World War II. He served in the Air Force in the China-Burma-India Theater in 1945 and flew supplies over the Hump (the eastern end of the Himalayas).  He felt it was important to promote Chennault’s association with Commerce.

“I knew Otha Spencer when I first started working in the library back in 1996. He spent the last 10 years of his life worked on promoting Claire Chennault,” Conrad said. “He had talked about collecting enough money to erect a statue of Claire in front of city hall and had started working on a book.”

The three-panel photo exhibit Spencer prepared is in the Commerce Public Library ready to be displayed once more in celebration.

“In a way part of [Spencer’s] dream is being fulfilled,” Conrad said. “That people know that Claire Chennault has an association with Commerce and that millions of Chinese honor his memory.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Zoe Peak.JPG Zoe Peak signs with Henderson State

    Most high school athletes are passionate about the sports they play, but few demonstrate the dedication of swimmers like Commerce High School senior Zoe Peak.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holocaust-Poster-2014-180x180.jpg Holocaust survivors to speak at A&M-Commerce

    Texas A&M University-Commerce students and community members will have a unique opportunity to hear firsthand from three Holocaust survivors their individual experiences, an opportunity that is becoming rarer by the day.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • DavidBrown.jpg Dallas Police Chief to speak at A&M-Commerce

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown will be on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus on April 25 to give a speech in the Traditions Room of the Rayburn Student Center.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • University to host Korean Consul-General

    Texas A&M University-Commerce will host a distinguished international politician today as former ambassador and Consul-General of the Republic of Korea Suk-Bum Park visits the campus.

    April 15, 2014

  • CR 1081 Damage 2.jpg Storm damages Hunt County

    Although Commerce was not struck by the series of tornadoes that occurred on April 3, it bore much of the impact of the severe weather caused by the storm cell. 

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Food pantry assists the ‘working poor’

    When Bread of Life Church of the Nazarene took over a monthly food pantry from Word of Life Church in Commerce, Pastor Jan Wilton told members of the Commerce Lions Club she felt a need to help the Commerce community.

    April 9, 2014

  • CR 1081 Damage 2.jpg Tornado bigger than first thought

    Additional details were released Monday about the size and intensity of last week’s tornado which struck northern Hunt County.

    April 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • Drumming up some fun

    Have you ever wondered what it takes to be part of a drum line at a university?

    April 3, 2014

  • Teachers honored at Commerce board meeting

    The Commerce ISD Board of Trustees held open session on March 20 to recognize the achievements of the Commerce ISD Campus Teachers of the Year, as well as discuss the potential offering of non-core classes to students not enrolled in the district.

    April 1, 2014

  • Environmental project to beautify park

    As the drought continues in Texas, water conservation is a hot topic.

    March 31, 2014

Featured Ads


What should be new A&M-C women's basketball coach Jason Burton's goals for the 2014-15 season?

Winning 10 games
Winning and LSC tournament game
His focus should be on recruiting/building the team, rather than immediate success
     View Results
Must Read
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide