OCTOBER 29, 1940

From The Dragon's Wings

"CNAC continued to face frightful difficulties in conduction aerial activities and had to pay a high price for maintaining services in war-torn China. An especially tragic loss came on October 29, 1940. Walter Kent, the red-headed Louisianan who had watched the bombs fall on Shanghai in 1937, was en route from Chungking to Kunming on that day. Kent had taken Royal Leonard's regular trip, as he wanted to be in Hong Kong to celebrate his thirty-seventh birthday on October 31 with his wife and three-year-old son, who were scheduled to leave for the United States the next day. Kent's aircraft was the DC-2 Kweilin, which had been salvaged from the Pearl River following Wood's ill-fated encounter with Japanese fighters in August 1938. Ten passengers were on board in addition to four crew members. About 100 miles northeast of Kunming, Kent ran into a flight of five Japanese fighter 'planes and landed at a small emergency field near Changyi. The Japanese spotted the Douglas and began a series of strafing passes as the airliner taxied off the runway. On their first pass, Kent was hit in the back by a 20-mm shell and died instantly. The other crew members evacuated the passengers as the left wing of the aircraft caught fire. They were machine-gunned while crossing the field in search of shelter. Nine of the fourteen persons on board the DC-2 were killed, two suffered wounds, and three escaped unharmed. The Japanese government dismissed subsequent American diplomatic protests."

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