As a pilot,  I am always concerned about men who die to fly for the nation, whichever it may be. The Second World War was one war which was almost like Armageddon, the last battle between good and evil. As is well known the Imperial army had laid waste the entire China and had set up a puppet regime in Manchuria. The entire seacoast of China was under the control of the Japanese navy and the ports of Shanghai among others were blockaded. There was no way for the Allies to reach the beleaguered Chinese National army fighting the Japanese. Thus, the problem was how to supply food, medicines and weapons to the Chinese.

This problem was solved and the US Air Force began an airlift from Assam to China, flying over the Himalayas. This has now been referred to as flying over "The Hump". It was daredevil flying as the US Air Force flew sorties from Chabua, Khumbhigram, Mohanbari, Tezpur and Jorhat to China. In addition to the transport planes, the US Air Force also flew bombing missions and bombed the Japanese positions.The USAF used the B-24( Liberator) a long-range heavy bomber to bomb the Japanese positions.

These were dangerous missions and many planes crashed while flying over the tall and the lofty Himalayas. Many were shot by enemy Anti-aircraft gunfire and some crashed in China and some crashed while returning in NEFA( now known as Arunachal Pradesh).The US Air Force mounted round the clock operations and the pilots flew the machines day and night.

The US always wanted that planes which had crashed in NEFA be found out and the crew repatriated back to America for last rites.  Unfortunately, as is well known, the Chinese after conquering Tibet have claimed entire Arunachal Pradesh as part of China. China objects to any activity in Arunachal Pradesh without its permission. As expected the Congress governments all gave in to the Chinese threats and refused any study or search of crashed US planes during WW II, for the simple reason that China objected. It's a moot point why successive governments gave in to Chinese threats when India considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. The government of the running dog of the Nehru family, Sardar ManMohan Singh was particularly guilty of succumbing to China and had refused to repatriate remains of a B-24 crew which had crashed sometime in 1944. In this, the Congress government let India down and reduced the Indian status to a third rate power scared of China. How can history forgive Nehru and the Congress party for this great surrender?

The Americans had been making requests for 10 years and it's a sad tale that ManMohan Singh Congress government refused the American request. At the back of the mind of the Congress government was a fear of China.

God took a hand and the Congress party was reduced to a rump in the 2014 election. The BJP swept to power and Modi set about asserting India's rights. He approved the remains of the US  airmen to be repatriated to the USA. It was a poignant moment as the bodies of the US airmen draped in the US national flag were handed over in a ceremonial manner to US representatives at Palam airbase in Delhi. Modi had honored the memory of the brave airmen who had died flying for their country. he pointedly ignored China, something Man Mohan Singh should have done.

The US is thankful to India for this and the remains of the soldiers have been flown to Washington , where DNA tests will be done and efforts made to establish the identity of the airmen. For this act alone Modi will be remembered for all times to come.

The missions over the Hump were daredevil missions and one can understand that in those days the aircraft were not as advanced as these days.Flying over the hump required great skill and bravery. All credit to US Air Force airmen who undertook these missions. Greater credit to Modi and the BJP government that they chose to ignore the bully China and allowed the airmen to have a last resting place. An airman deserves respect, especially if he has died on a mission. These airmen can now rest in peace. 


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