Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall 2012 Schedule

On Wednesday, September 19 the World War II Book Club will open its fall schedule of monthly lectures by World War II historians and authors. Dan Petach will be our lecturer  on September 19.  Please note that this is a change of date. The original scheduled date for the lecture was Tuesday, September 18. Because Tuesday was  the second day of Rosh Hashanah we rescheduled the lecture for Wednesday.

All lectures are at the Millburn Library, 200 Glen Avenue, Millburn, New Jersey and commence promptly at 7 PM.

Dan Petach, historian of the famous "Flying Tigers" will deliver a lecture on the history of this famous group of World War II heroes. The American Volunteer Group (AVG), a flying formation known as the "Flying Tigers" because of the bared fangs painted on the noses of their fighters, was the brainchild of General Claire Chennault, a retired U.S. Army Air Force officer and advisor to the Chinese government prior to Pearl Harbor. Chennault had worked in China since August 1937 first as a military advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the early months of the Sino-Japanese War and then as director of a Chinese Air Force. It was Chennault's idea to recruit American flyers and form the "Flying Tigers". The pilots  were all volunteers and under an agreement with the Chinese government, they operated in China prior to Pearl Harbor throughout the year 1941 against an invading Japanese military, amassing an astounding record of success fighting the Japanese Air Force.

Dan Petach,  the nephew of Flying Tiger Ace Johnny "Pete" Petach, will relate the amazing story of the AVG and its history and how the AVG was inducted into the United States Army Air Force in December 1941, a event not popular with the free wheeling and fun loving pilots. Dan will tell the story of the famous feud between General Chennault and General Joseph  Warren "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, and how that impaired the efficiency of the Flying Tigers after their "induction" into the United States Army, under Stilwell's command. 

Dan will tell us about  the exploits of his famous uncle, Johnny Petach who  married an AVG nurse, Jane Forster, while in China and he will also relate her adventurous story.

Dan, recognized as one of the few official AVG historians, resides in a Adelphi New Jersey. He will show a short film about the Flying Tigers, and will bring with him books,  pictures and other memorabilia relating to this exciting period of World War II history.

The schedule for the remainder of the year includes Mr. Del Staecker who will lecture on Tuesday October 16, about his father a sailor on an attack transport ship in the Pacific during the heaviest fighting in the war. On  Tuesday November 20 we will host Professor Gregory J. W. Urwin who will give us a talk about the heroic Wake Island defenders in the first days of the Pacific War. On December 6, the Book Club will again host its annual Holiday Dinner at Pals Cabin.