Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blood Chits

This was an interesting subject. The pic above is a Flying Tigers Blood Chit.

This history of blood chits goes back 1793, when a Frenchman named Jean-Pierre Blanchard visited America in his hot air balloon. Blancharf didn't speak English and with the uncertain nature of ballooning, didn't know where he'd end up. So, George Washington gave him a letter that said "all US citizens were obliged to assist him to return to Philadelphia".

In WWI, the British Royal Flying Corps in India carried "goolie chits". Goolie was the Hindustani word for ball and British slang for testicle. A "goolie chit" promised a reward for the safe return of a British aviator. Why "goolie"? Because some tribesmen would have their women castrate downed pilots and keep them as slaves. Yikes!

The Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group wore Blood Chits on the back of their flight jackets. They later found it best to sew them inside the jacket in case they were downed in a Communist area.

Later, when the United States entered the war in 1941, it issued blood chits in almost 50 different languages. And, a reward was offered to those who assisted downed fliers.

The U.S. government kept its word. The greatest reward ever given went to the family that aided a B-29 crew shot down on 12 July 1950, two weeks after the start of the Korean War. The crewmen, badly injured, were found by North Korean civilians. Yu Ho Chun found the blood chit in the pocket of one flier. He gave the Americans medical aid. Then, at great personal risk, he put them on a junk and sailed them 100 miles down the coast to safety. Two weeks later the North Korean Army found Chun, tortured him, and then killed him. But, 43 years later in 1993 the United States paid $100,000.00 to his son, Yu Song Dan.

During the war in Vietnam the fighter, attack, and helicopter crews carried new blood chits. These chits displayed the American flag, plus an appeal in 14 languages: English, Burmese, Thai, Old Chinese, New Chinese, Laotian, Cambodian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Visayan, Malayan, French, Indonesian, and Dutch. The wording in each language was the same:.

I am a citizen of the United States of America. I do not speak your language. Misfortune forces me to seek your assistance in obtaining food, shelter, and protection. Please take me to someone who will provide for my safety and see that I am returned to my people. My government will reward you.

In Vietnam, as in World War II, some unique missions required unique measures. On certain Black Ops flights, in addition to their blood chits, the aircrews carried paper money and gold coins.

Today the United States has pre-printed blood chits most for locations throughout the world. Blood chits, in the appropriate languages, were issued to airmen for operations in Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, and the Gulf War. Since the Gulf War, use of blood chits has continued among airmen flying the hostile skies of Southwest Asia.

Today the blood chit package includes money, and sometimes a pointee-talkee pictorial display.

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