Chennault, Claire (Lee)(1890–1958) aviator; born in Commerce, Texas. A schoolteacher, he obtained an infantry commission in 1917, transferred to the Signal Corps and became a pilot. Forced out of the service in 1937 because of deafness, Chennault went to work for the Chinese Nationalists, recruiting some 50 U.S. pilots and equipping them with P-40 aircraft for operations against the Japanese. In a brief career of seven months in 1941–42, Chennault's "Flying Tigers" became the most publicized flying unit of World War II. Chennault went on to hold senior U.S. commands in China, retiring in 1945. He continued to serve the Nationalists as an air consultant until the year of his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.