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History Channel profiles John Birch. (Insider Report).

Television's History Channel regularly broadcasts a feature known as "This Week in History." During mid-April, the popular cable channel aired a 15-minute review of the famous April 18, 1942 raid over Tokyo led by then-Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. But the program was much more about the man who rescued Doolittle and some of his companions after they ditched their planes in a part of China held by Japanese occupation forces. The amazing American who brought the courageous flyers back to friendly forces was John Birch.

Launched from a carrier in the Pacific, the 16 B-25s bombed Japan's mainland. Unable to return to any friendly airfield because of low fuel capacity, the planes headed for China where their crews bailed out. The program noted that some were captured, but Doolittle and his party were brought back to friendly forces by John Birch, a Christian missionary living amongst the Chinese for the previous year and a half.

After young Birch told Doolittle he wanted to help the American forces rid China of Japanese invaders, the rescued pilot informed General Claire Chennault about this amazing American living among the Chinese, even speaking their language. Chennault sent for him and commissioned him as a first lieutenant in the 14th Air Force, the fabled Flying Tigers. John would spend the remaining three years of the war organizing intelligence networks, guiding planes to their targets, and earning a well-deserved reputation as "the eyes of the 14th Air Force."

Much of the program featured commentary from John's younger brother, Robert, who accurately described him first and foremost as a man of God. But John's leadership ability and well-known heroism did not go unnoticed by Chinese Communist forces considering him a threat to their totalitarian designs. And so, while Birch was on a peaceful mission and in uniform, some of Mao Tse-tung's soldiers brutally murdered him on August 25, 1945, ten days after World War II had ended. The History Channel commentator noted that he would soon become known "as the first casualty of the Cold War,"

No one watching the program could fail to appreciate the deeds of this remarkable American. After gaining permission from John's parents, biographer Robert Welch selected his name as the symbol for the John Birch Society. Robert Birch claimed that there were no connections between what John stood for and the "conservative, anti-Communist organization" bearing his name. Of course, there couldn't be because John Birch was in his grave more than 13 years before the Society was formed. But John's parents remained proud members of the Society while alive.

It was California Senator William Knowland who pried most of the details about John's death from government files. Only a small portion of this genuine hero's amazing exploits were aired in this short but very positive program. Other than briefly referring to the Society as "an ultra-conservative" organization, and suggesting that John is today ironically "remembered by some for the wrong reasons," the History Channel indeed presented viewers with a glimpse of a real American hero. The far more complete and thrilling story of this unique American hero can be gained in Robert Welch's The Life of John Birch and in James and Marti Hefley's The Secret File on John Birch. *

* Both books may be ordered online at the John Birch Society's website. Go to, then click on "More on John Birch."
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Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 3, 2002
Previous Article:Integrity at Work.
Next Article:Where's the presidential "dignity"? (Insider Report).

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