SAN LUIS OBISPO, the United States, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Harry Moyer, a U.S. WWII "Flying Tiger" veteran pilot, celebrated his centennial birthday by taking a solo flight here on Friday.
Moyer joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. He is noted for serving with distinction in combat in different theaters of operations during WWII -- first in North Africa, next in the liberation of Sicily and Italy, and finally in China battling the Japanese aggressors.
Moyer's squadron joined the 23rd Fighter Group of the 14th Air Force in China in 1944 and was primarily responsible for protecting Chinese airfields and the B-29 bombers stationed there tasked with counter-attacks on Japan.
As one of the few remaining WWII pilots and the only one believed to still be licensed to fly solo, he naturally wanted to spend his 100th birthday in the place he loves the best -- up in the clouds.
Hosted by his family, friends and the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation, Moyer's centennial birthday celebration took place at the San Luis Obispo County's Regional Airport.
Moyer took off from the airport at noon in a Mooney MK 21 airplane and circled the airfield twice, giving a jaunty tip of his wings to the onlookers who had gathered below to watch him set the world record for the oldest licensed pilot to conduct a solo flight in the world, which is being confirmed by Guinness World Records.
Speeches, well-wishes and letters of congratulations poured in from the far corners of the globe, including from Susie Lee, member of Congress; William A. Cohen, a retired U.S. Air force major general; Jeffrey Greene, chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation; Zhang Ping, Chinese consul general in Los Angeles; Wang Donghua, Chinese consul general in San Francisco; and many others.
"Harry is not only a hero for us, but also a very important hero for people in China," asserted Greene with a smile.
"With their bravery and sacrifice, the Flying Tigers have made important contribution to the final victory of the Chinese people," wrote Zhang.
"The Chinese people cherish that part of history and will always remember their heroic deeds and sacrifice," he added.
"The story of the Flying Tigers forms an important and brilliant chapter in the history of China-US relations," Wang noted, calling Moyer "a living witness to the US-China friendship."
Moyer sincerely agrees. "We must keep the bond between the U.S. and China alive," he told Xinhua. "It was forged in blood and honor."