GENRE: Biographical Drama.
STATUS: Script written.
LOGLINE: Loosely based on the book, Hero of the Himalayas, the story of Eddie Long, a young man from Hong Kong, who after the Japanese invasion in WWII, becomes a pilot with the famed “Flying Tigers.”
COMPANY NOTES: Eric Nemoto wrote this script with the consultation and permission of the book’s editors, Melvin Choy and Douglas Ho; who along with partner Randy Leong, form China-America Business Connections (C-ABC). They represent the families of Eddie Long (who passed away in 2014), and seek to eventually make a movie of his life. The script was initially written as part of a movie project entry for the 2016 Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF). Although the project was not selected, the positive outcome of the effort is that the memoir of a truly great Chinese hero has now been committed to a screenplay format, for which the partners of C-ABC are utilizing in their attempts to gain future financing for the filming of Eddie Long’s story. Hero Of The Himalayas can be purchased by clicking here.
Note: Black and white photos are taken from the book “Hero Of The Himalayas.”
It is the 60th Anniversary of V-J Day in the People’s Great Hall, Beijing, China, September 3, 2005. Walking in is our hero, Long Qiming, 82, also known by his English name, Eddie Long. He passes an Elderly Man, also in his 80s, who stares and recognizes him. Eddie arrives at the check-in table where a Female Staff Member bows her head and gestures him to enter to the side. Eddie follows her point to a hallway leading to the grand ballroom. At the entrance a Chinese soldier snaps to attention and salutes him. Eddie returns the salute, proceeds, and finds a line of more soldiers who also snap to attention and salute. Eddie returns each salute and continues on. During the formal program an Emcee nods to the side and house lights dim and a photo of a Curtiss P-40 fighter plane with the image of a shark painted on its nose, symbolic of the legendary fighter group, the “Flying Tigers,” of World War II, is emblazoned against a blue sky. Eddie stares up at it with a look of reverence and we are transported back in time.
We are in Hong Kong, December 8, 1941. Two Japanese zeros dive down towards the city. In his bedroom, Eddie, 18, sleeps in bed. The bombs landing nearby rocks the house and Eddie falls out of bed. He rushes out of the house where his father, Long Chaojie, 40’s, looks out into the distance to see a funnel of black smoke rising. “War has come.” Later, Eddie rides his bicycle to school. Around him people are hurriedly moving about, giving in to the general panic that pervades. A British Soldier spots him and asks him where he’s heading. When Eddie tells him he’s going to King’s College the British Soldier says, “What are you? A blooming idiot? There’s a WAR going on! Now get back to your house!” The soldier swats Eddie across the top of his head. Eddie grimaces and turns back with rage in his eyes but can do nothing. Back at home Chaojie scolds Eddie for leaving the house, telling him that it is war now and everything has changed. His mother, Long Wu Lanqu, older brother, Long Qichang, younger sister, Long Qianping, and younger brother, Long Qishao, all watch in silence. Listening to the radio later they learn that martial law has been instituted and anyone caught leaving the city will be shot on sight. The next day, Eddie waits out on the street as Qichang knocks on the door of his girlfriend’s house. But no one lives there anymore. Later, at the rice distribution center, they encounter a long line as people line up for their meager rations. As they walk home they come upon a checkpoint station manned by Japanese soldiers. A soldier screams at three Chinese men and forces them to bow on the street like the “dogs that they are.” Eddie leads Qichang away. Avoiding other checkpoints they walk atop roof tops where talk coming from the streets below make them stop and look over. They see Japanese soldiers tormenting a woman returning with groceries who is out after curfew but who is merely trying to get to her house which is right across the street and where her little boy cries for her. Two elderly men in their 80s try to reason with the soldiers. But as Eddie and his brother watch in horror, the tormenting escalates to the point where the soldiers gun all of them down, leaving the streets pooling in blood. Qichang has to literally cover Eddie’s mouth to keep him from screaming his rage.
At night back at home Eddie stands in the backyard looking up at the moon. Chaojie walks out of the door carrying something wrapped with colorful paper. He and Eddie talk. Chaojie recounts a story when as a little boy his mother had Eddie bring him chicken soup to his office. Then, the British Director told him that all Chinese go through the back door and Eddie merely did. While Eddie still thinks of the moment with fury in his heart, Chaojie assures him that he did the right thing. “That was a battle not worth fighting.” He tells Eddie that he and his brother must leave for mainland China, to continue their lives, and for Eddie to find a new school. Chaojie gives him an envelope of money and tells him his brother intends to go to Chongqing, where he believes his girlfriend and her family has left for. Eddie tells his father that his friends, Guang and Deyi, talk of Guilin, where they heard the university there is offering free tuition for overseas Chinese. “Guang says he has a good feeling about this,” Eddie says, “He’s ‘always’ sensing things.” Chaojie agrees that he should go there with his friends. He then gives Eddie a very famous dictum by Mr. Miao Zhongkai, a very close friend of Sun Yat-sen. Chaojie holds the paper out and reads it. “My heart will never die if my nation’s disgrace is not avenged; therefore, I will not shed my tears as usual when we say goodbye.” The men are moved by its words and by the moment. Later, in the darkness, Chaojie, Qichang, and Eddie enjoin in a long and continuing emotional embrace, in the front yard, while Wu Langqu, Qianping, and Qishao stand by watching, tears streaming down their cheeks. The men release their hold of each other. Eddie and Qichang pick up their bags, wave their good-byes, and then disappear into the night.
Qichang, Eddie, and two of his friends, Yu Deyi and Pan Guang, in their 20’s, walk on countryside roads. They pass houses destroyed by bombs and fire, hillsides behind which dark smoke arises, and tired, disheveled, and displaced Chinese people walking listlessly past them going in the opposite direction. At night they huddle around a campfire and eat rats that they have cooked over the fire. They continue their journey, passing a river where they see rotting human corpses, a field where a row of dead bodies lie unburied, and a black shell of a still smoldering house. Eddie calls out for any survivors. He gets no response. They continue along a hillside when they hear distant screams. Eddie quickly rushes away, followed by his friends. From the bushes they watch a Japanese soldier struggling with a Chinese woman in a field of long grass, obviously in an attempt to rape her. She screams. A Chinese man, her husband, charges out of a nearby hut holding a sickle in his hand, running to save her. Another Japanese soldier appears from the hut with a rifle, aims, and FIRES! The Chinese man is hit in the back and freezes in his stride. The Japanese soldier holding the Chinese woman turns and watches. The Chinese woman reacts as her husband falls to the ground… dead. The woman screams, “NOOO!!!” She breaks from the soldier holding her and runs towards her husband. The soldier with the rifle aims again and FIRES! The Chinese woman is struck and she falls dead too. Both soldiers converge by the dead couple and the first soldier argues as to why the woman was shot. The other soldier just says he reacted. As Eddie and the rest watch in horror, their expressions tell us that the Japanese soldier has decided to have his way with the woman anyway. Eddie can contain himself no longer. He starts to charge forward but is literally corralled by the others and dragged away. Later, near a river, Qichang berates his brother for almost getting them killed. Eddie explodes. He rages that he wants to kill every Japanese. Guang counsels that it is not the time. “When?” Eddie rages, “If we cannot fight when we are witness to something like…” Eddie, finding no words to fully describe his feeling can only pick up a rock from the river and throws it back into the water.
Continuing on their journey, the men get to a bus stop where there is a mob of people. They reason that getting a bus ride is a virtual impossibility. Deyi comes up with an idea without really thinking. He takes out some money. “We need to get to Guilin! We can pay! We need a ride to Guilin! Who will…” Eddie reaches up and snatches Deyi’s money and stuffs it back into his pocket. He and Qichang tell him not to show that they have money. Too late. As they look around a number street toughs look at them and they walk nervously through a gauntlet of thieves. As they turn the corner Eddie yells, “RUN!” The thieves split up with half the group following them and the other half running around to cut them off. The men are cornered in an alley and are surrounded by the thieves. The leader asks for their money and Qichang, Deyi, and Guang hand over all they have. But Eddie refuses. Qichang rolls his eyes as he knows where this is headed. The leader laughs and tells Eddie he is a courageous fool and tells his men to get his money. Eddie proceeds to wage a one man battle and holds his own for a while until he is held and the leader proceeds to beat him mercilessly. Qichang, not able to just stand by, steps in and hits the leader and he and Eddie, along with Deyi and Guang joining in, manage to fight back until a police siren causes the thieves to disperse. Qichang, both angry at his brother and yet proud, says to Eddie, “Father was right. You are a tiger.”
At a train station, Eddie makes his way back through a crowd of people. He says, “I’ve decided to get either three tickets to Guilin,” and as Guang and Deyi nod, rub their hands, and hold them out, he hands a ticket to Qichang, “Or one ticket to Chongqing, and we’ll continue walking.” Eddie takes out his money and gives a little to Qichang, who stares at the ticket and cash, overcome by the unexpected generosity. The brothers hug. Qichang tells Eddie they will meet again but the words, both men know, have an empty finality to it. Qichang heads for the train and the men turn and walk away. The men finally reach Guilin, Guangxi. It is July, 1942. They come to the entrance of a school with a sign that reads, “The University of Guangxi.” In the office the stoic school admissions officer, a woman, tells them the school is on recess. They also find out that there is no free tuition for overseas Chinese. The men are crushed. They have come all this way for something that doesn’t exist. They walk the streets aimlessly, look in on people eating in a restaurant, and have to settle for camping near the river bank and catching a small fish. Then one day, while merely hanging out, they notice a crowd of people walking to and standing in front of a building. Eddie leads the others to check it out. He makes his way through the throng of people and gets to the display window. There a recruiting poster from the Chinese Air Transportation Committee reads, “Join The War Effort! BE A PILOT! Pilots being recruited to train for the American Air Force to be stationed in China! Step inside to take the examination! $100 yuan application fee.” Fronting a photo of a P-40 fighter plane is the image of an animated growling tiger. Despite the protests of the others, Eddie says they’ll take the test. “$300 yuan?” Deyi exclaims, “That’s all you have.” The men go inside. As they take the test, Eddie stares down in fear. He sees on the paper, “Three Principles of the People.” Later the men are beside themselves for they never learned the “principles” while in Hong Kong. Deyi thinks they are doomed. Guang maintains an optimistic note. “Maybe it won’t be so bad,” he says. Deyi explodes. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! Five sections! Even if we had everything correct in the other sections, none of us completed anything in one ENTIRE section! I think it is hard to not notice that!” But as Deyi has given up all hope, Eddie remains steadfast. “We will find work.” “WORK?!” Deyi laughs, “We’ve tried everything! Who will hire us?!” Eddie looks around. He sees a restaurant with a “Help Wanted” sign, and heads for it. Guang and Deyi follow curiously. Inside the owner tells Eddie to get out after he refuses to fill out an application and demands to be hired on the spot. But Eddie is adamant. The owner is perplexed. “Why would I hire you?” “Because,” Eddie reasons confidently, “When will you ever have the opportunity to hire three men for the price of one?” The owner thinks (“Hmm”) as Guang and Deyi trade looks. Later, the men are washing dishes and while Deyi jokes about being a college educated eldest son doing menial labor, they are not sad. The owner has let them stay in a small room above the restaurant and as they finish their work he sets down food for them. As they eat they talk of the fact that the test results will be posted the next day. Guang says, “Cheer up Eddie, I feel good things will come our way.” It is then Double Ten Day, October 10, 1942. While others before them react in disappointment and walk away, Eddie, Guang, and Deyi, finally reach the list on the office window. As Eddie continues to look, eventually he releases a smile, which is then followed by Guang and Deyi erupting in joy.
Eddie is entralled as he looks out the window of a transport plane for it is his first time flying. A sergeant tells everyone that they’ll be landing soon. Eddie innocently asks if the city below is Chongqing. The sergeant sarcastically responds that it “is” their destination so he would think so. Two arrogant American recruits, Jack Stafford, 20s, and Frank MacKenna, 20s, talk loudly so as to purposely assure that Eddie can hear. They derogatorily speak of “chinks” being recruited to fly for the U.S. Brooks Davis, 20s, another American recruit and Ivy league educated, tells them they’re being racist and that they’re ignorant of the fact that the Chinese have contributed much to mankind and yet have endured such hardship. Eddie turns and notices their conversation. Frank explains that he was just thinking out loud. “That chink never been to this city,” he says, “I would think coming from China, he’d have been around more. Plus most of these chinks don’t understand English anyway.” “Excuse me,” Eddie interjects, “Where are YOU from?” “Me?” Frank responds, “Boston, Massachusetts.” “Ever been to Mobile, Alabama?” Eddie asks. Frank is stumped. He subtly scoffs and turns away. Grins abound from all who have witnessed or heard this interaction. Brooks nods to himself. In the meeting room later, David “Tex” Hill, 30s, a captain, addresses the pilot recruits. He tells everyone that they’ve been selected to undergo a training program to join in the war effort and be a part of the American Volunteer Group, better known as “The Flying Tigers” commanded by General Clare Chennault. Eddie is mesmerized. Chennault is a legend. Tex explains that everyone, whether they know how to fly or not, will start from square one, but that those who already know how to fly will be asked to help everybody else since the quicker everybody is brought up to snuff the faster they’ll all win the war. Frank turns to Jack and rolls his eyes. “I ain’t working with no Chinese, tell you that much. I can just see it coming… oh so sorry… I neva know that was the trigga.” Tex sets him straight. “What’s the problem MacKenna? The fact you can’t speak Chinese? Far as I know, most of the Chinese can speak both Chinese and English. In fact, some of them here can speak both Cantonese and Mandarin, something us Americans will find real handy since not all Chinese speak the same language. So MacKenna, you just worry about yourself. I think that will be big enough of a challenge for you.” Frank reluctantly gets the message. Tex continues. “Speaking of you Chinese recruits, all of you have been selected because of your outstanding test scores, particularly in your proficiency with the English language. So we know you have the intellectual capacity to learn. But flying is not just about being able to read an altimeter, or doing the math to calculate a flight plan. It’s about having the manual dexterity and physical stamina necessary to operate our planes, like the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that is the most agile, mobile, and fierce fighting machine man has ever put in the air. Or the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an American heavy bomber, that is even better than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, with a more modern design, higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load. These are weapons that, put in the right hands, can rid the skies of every Japanese Zero from here to Tokyo.” Tex scans the room of young and excited new pilots who smile their apprehension. In Eddie’s eyes, we see he has found his purpose. However, Tex lays the most important truth on them. A year from now, if they reconvene, many will not be sitting in their seats.
We get a series of shots of the recruits going through training at the Kunming Air Force Aviation School in the classroom , the field, and in the cockpit while flying. As others struggle, Eddie excels. Brooks admires his friend. Frank and Jack are envious. We continue at the Lahore Aviation School, India, where Tex gives a talk while surrounded by all of the recruits, which are a multi-ethnic group representing many different countries. There are recruits who are Chinese, Indian, and of the Caucasian persuasion, for which some can be deciphered as coming from England. Eddie raises his hand, is recognized by Tex, and provides an answer. Frank, noticing this, looks away and shakes his head. Other shots show Eddie flying with an instructor, Ben Dawkins, 30s, and his enthusiasm is written on his face and Ben nods his positive impressions of the young aviator. In the classroom, many recruits, including Brooks, Guang, Deyi, and others from India, China, and England, gather behind Eddie as he discusses the instruction manual. Tex passes the classroom and notices that Eddie is leading the discussion.
We are now at the Arizona Air Force Base, in Phoenix, Arizona. In the air, Frank’s hot dogging gets him chastised and grounded. While they know Frank can fly, his inability to know how to work as part of a unit is his big weakness. Ben tells Tex that the aces in this cohort are Brooks and Eddie. “Eddie Long?” Tex asks, “That kid from Hong Kong?” “He’s a model pilot sir,” Ben says, “Knows every maneuver, gets the most out of his plane without burning too much fuel, absorbs everything like a sponge, does everything by the book. He was flying solo after only five hours of training.” “Well let’s get him up there then,” Tex says. As the other recruits watch him, Eddie is put through the paces of flying all of the maneuvers and he hits everything perfectly. Frank looks up with anger and envy and is chastised by Brooks. “When the hell are you gonna ever get it through that thick skull of yours that this isn’t a beauty pageant. They don’t give you prizes for LOOKING good MacKenna!” “What the hell does it matter to you?” Frank scoffs. “It MATTERS!” Brooks stares back, “I’d rather it didn’t, but it does! Look I don’t like YOU MacKenna, and personally I wish they’d kick your ass off of this squad. But as long as they don’t I have to accept the terrifying possibility that you might be on my wing one day. And I gotta know that my wingman can operate as a team! And let me tell you, I’ll take that guy in the air over you any day and so would every other man in this program with the exception of your flunky, Jack, over here, who feels the same but is too chicken to say.” Jack displays anger, but there is truth in Brooks’ words. Later, as Eddie returns to the hangar the toast of the class, Frank springs up behind him and pushes him hard from the back, causing him to sprawl onto the floor, scattering chairs and tables. “Ching chong Chinaman!” Frank says, “You think you’re hot stuff huh? God damn teacher’s pet! Do what you’re told! Oh yesuh suh! Me do whatever you say suh! Ahh… why don’t you get out of the sky and let the Americans do what we do best!” Brooks has finally reached his limit. “You got this coming Mackenna…” But as Brooks starts for Frank, he is stopped by Eddie’s outreached hand. “Hey Eddie,” Brooks intercedes, “Listen, I’ve been wanting to give this guy a tune up for awhile anyway. Why don’t you let me… “No. No tune up.” Eddie stares out defiantly, “Sometimes you just need to bust something up and throw it out.” Brooks smiles, “Go get’em tiger.” Eddie and Frank go outside and take off their shirts. They are followed by everybody who start to make bets with the general betting having the Chinese and other non-American recruits leaning towards Eddie, but the majority, the Americans, taking Frank. Jack laughingly takes the money and mocks those who are betting on Eddie. In the tower, Tex inquires what’s going on. Ben tells him he’ll put an end to it since Frank’s a robust 220 and Eddie is 150 at best. Tex says no. “Let’s just see how this plays out.” Brooks, while supportive of Eddie has his doubts. But Deyi and Guang smile. “I have a good feeling about this,” Guang says. Brooks turns to Jack, “I’ll take some of that money, Stafford!” The fight begins. Immediately it shows that size means nothing. Eddie is quicker, his punches faster, and his skill demonstrates to all that he’s been in many fights. Tex deadpans, “Yeah, I think we’ll just let this go.” Ben and the others smile. Back on the ground Frank is exhausted and his face looks like it’s gone through a meat grinder. Jack implores him on. “Come on Frank! At least hit him!” A final flurry of punches and Frank falls like a big tree. Eddie is hoisted up by Brooks and the others as a conquering hero. Later during graduation ceremonies, everyone gets their diploma from Tex, including Frank, who has bandages on his face. During the reception afterwards as everyone still congregates around Eddie, Frank makes his way and shakes his hand. As Frank turns and leaves, Eddie pulls him back and welcomes him into the group and Brooks pats Frank’s back. Jack too is a better man. He introduces his parents to Deyi and Guang.
Back at Kunming, it is 1943, and Eddie, Deyi, Guang, Jack, Brooks, and Frank each carry duffel bags and walk from the transport plane to the building and they spot the legend, General Claire Chennault, 50s, and his aces, Captain Caleb Haynes, 40s, and Major Robert Lee Scott, 30s. Deyi remarks, “Chennault doesn’t look as big as I thought he would.” “Maybe your eyes are small, Deyi.” Frank retorts. Everyone takes a slow turn to Frank, who puts up his hands in defense. “I’m just saying! It’s a joke! There’s nothing behind that… geez!” The gang laughs and think of what to do with the few days they have off before they start as “Flying Tigers.” Eddie is prodded to come up with something that will get them women. They later arrive at a women’s dormitory where a social is happening. While the others are reticent, Eddie goes in first to check it out. There he sees many women dressed in evening gowns and men escorting them to the dance floor. He then notices the young maid, Liu Peizhu, 20, whose name he finds out from her discussion with the matron of the house. She is young and beautiful and is told that since her work is done she can join the festivities if she has a dress that is appropriate. Peizhu says that she does and ventures upstairs to change. Eddie watches her for he is immediately smitten. He goes back out and tells the boys that they’re invited. While they’re not, they nonetheless are treated as heroes, their uniforms attracting dozens of pretty ladies to their sides. Frank tells a tall tale about surviving a recent plane crash, which explains the bruises and cuts to his face. Eddie laughs. Frank winks at him. As Peizhu joins the party, Eddie walks over and asks her to dance. Jack, similarly is attracted to a pretty Chinese woman, Ruth Chang, 20s, and they dance, although Jack can’t dance a lick. Both men have a great time and their buddies too, laughing and drinking in the company of beautiful women.
The next day, Jack and Eddie return to the dormitory to call upon Ruth and Peizhu. Peizhu is mortified. She is in the back doing the laundry. Ruth greets them and speaks loudly so as to give Peizhu some advance notice. Peizhu, dressed in worn clothes, doesn’t know what to do, and before she can do anything, Eddie has appeared in the washroom with her. As she stands land locked in embarrassment, Eddie politely apologizes for his impertinence but asks if she would like to go out for a picnic lunch. Peizhu waits for Eddie’s inevitable realization. Peizhu lowers her gaze and says, “Eddie, I’m sorry. I am not a college student. I am a lowly maid. I work here. I only got to go to the dance because of the kindness of the house matron. My dress I wore was borrowed from Ruth. I’m sorry to have deceived you.” Eddie, if he had been smitten before, is now in love. He approaches the saddened Peizhu and tenderly places his hand below her chin and lifts her head so she can look at him. “If your being a maid mattered to me,” he says, “I would have never asked you to dance.” Peizhu’s world overflows with joy. Later, they go on a date in Dian Park, with Peizhu having cooked a lunch that Eddie devours. They get to know each other and find they are a lot alike. She is from Shanghai and like Eddie, after the city was overrun by the Japanese, she escaped and eventually ended up in Kunming and doesn’t know how her family is doing. They are the perfect match. We get a series of shots of them spending the next few days together; driving through the countryside; Eddie teaching her how to play tennis; strolling through a food market; eating at a restaurant; and kissing under the glare of the moonlight looking over Dian Lake. On the night before they are to report as pilots, Eddie walks into a hotel, heading for the restaurant. Jack asks to speak with him. He apologizes to Eddie for how he was initially when they met and how his life has changed having met Ruth. Eddie accepts his apology and tells Jack he knows what he means. They go into the restaurant where Eddie, Brooks, Jack, Frank, Guang, and Deyi eat at the same table and are inseparable as brothers. As Frank, of all people, toasts to the new “Flying Tigers” in Chinese, Eddie notices Brooks’ amazed look and asks him his thoughts. “I was just thinking, Eddie,” Brooks says, “We’re all so different you know? And yet so alike. And it’s when we focus on our differences that we get into trouble. But when we focus on what makes us all the same, well, that’s when the world changes.” Eddie contemplates Brooks’ words for a beat, then joins him to look back at the world indeed having changed before their very eyes.
The following night Tex stands with Eddie, Brooks, Deyi, Guang, Frank, and Jack. They look out to a C-47 transport plane as Tex describes its capabilities. The men are confused. They expect to be flying P-40’s. Tex explains that their assignments will be flying supplies to and from bases over the “Hump Route,” a path that takes them over the treacherous Himalayas. The men cannot believe it. They wanted to be “Flying Tigers.” Tex shouts back that they are but all pilots have different assignments and assures them their missions are no walk in the park, citing the thousand previous pilots who have already died before them. Though this sobering statistic quells their frustration a bit, Eddie is still greatly dismayed. His desire to exact revenge on the Japanese continues to be out of reach. Eddie enters the cockpit of the C-47. Sitting in the pilot’s seat is Captain Robert Raines, 30’s, checking the controls as the engine cranks up. As they level off in cruising altitude, Robert gives the mentor talk. He knows Eddie is disappointed to be there but tells him “The Hump” is the most challenging route in the whole world. “Basically,” Robert looks into Eddie’s soul, “We’re talking 500 miles of the most gnarliest natural terrain known to man. And that’s not counting the fact that there ARE Japanese zeros out there that will be trying to intercept us in the air. And because of that we have to make this crazy run at NIGHT? It’s like flying with a blindfold on! So do you get my drift Eddie? There’s a hundred ways you can die up here and usually the one that gets you is the one you were never thinking about. Don’t ever forget that.” Eddie nods and now knows the score.
We get a series of shots at night of the men flying the “Hump.” Eddie and Brooks direct supplies being loaded. Frank and Guang are told by Tex that they’re flying together. In the cockpit, Jack and Deyi take a brief survey around and take their seats. Eddie flies as Brooks serves as his co-pilot. Frank flies with Guang. Jack flies with Deyi. A C-47 flies through the majestic Himalayas. As it does, Eddie and Brooks hold their breath as they pass through a tight opening in between two mountain peaks. Brooks watches the mountain side pass by like an iceberg passing a ship. “Hey Brooksie,” Eddie says, “You heard of Matthew 19:24?” Brooks, focused on the passing mountain, shakes his head. “Sorry, in church I used to always sit in the back row and talk to Joanne Smyzer.” Eddie smiles, “Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than…” Brooks finishes, “Than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. I hear you. Yeah, that needle’s got nothing on this place.” As Frank switches seats with Guang the plane is jolted. They both hang on. Guang pulls on the controls and steadies the plane. They look to the side and see an avalanche falling off the side of a mountain, and the winds whip up a storm at the top. Frank and Guang trade nervous looks. “Fly high and the winds toss you around like a rag doll.” Franks says, “Fly too low you risk crashing into the mountains. It’s a God damn nightmare is what it is.” “Yes. We go down here,” Guang looks out and down, “We’re on our own.” Jack and Deyi have the most difficult time. They rise high to get out of the cloud cover but the winds threaten to tear the plane apart. So they drop down and fly blind. On the ground, a happy Ruth shows Peizhu her engagement ring. She asks Peizhu if Eddie will ask her. Peizhu says he won’t since he’s concerned about marrying her and then leaving her an immediate widow.
Back at the base, Eddie receives some shocking news from a letter he reads; his body reacting by sitting on the bench near his locker. Guang, dressing nearby, notices that something is wrong and inquires. He tells the rest of the guys, “It’s a letter from Eddie’s brother, Qichang. He is alive in Chongqing. He writes that their younger brother, Qishao, managed to find him there. Their brother said their parents and sister are dead. They had left Hong Kong about a year ago and were finding their way to Qichang. But while traveling along a dirt road in the southwest a bomb was dropped… and they were all killed. Japanese zeros.” Quiet. The news stuns everyone. No one can say anything. Back at Dian Park, Eddie and Peizhu relax on their picnic blanket. Eddie looks out to the lake. He talks about his father telling him about the Rape of Nanking, when Japanese soldiers literally committed genocide, killing innocent civilians, using them for bayonet practice. He talks about his father, mother, and sister. “My sister was a beautiful lotus flower. My mother the heart of the universe. My father, aside from being an intellectual, had so much pride. He worked for the British but he never wore Western suits. He always told me, ‘Never forget that you are Chinese.’ When I was young I didn’t understand him. But now… I understand him more than ever.” Eddie recalls his father’s words and makes a vow himself, “My heart will never die if my nation’s disgrace is not avenged.”
We get a series of shots. The men get their assignments from Tex. Brooks turns the plane and it passes through the “Eye of the Needle” at an angle. Eddie nods his approval. Through active turbulence, Frank expertly guides the plane through whisps of clouds. Guang nods. Deyi takes the plane under the cloud cover. Jack looks up to the clouds and looks around and nods. In the locker room, Eddie teaches Jack how to dance. He takes the position of the woman and then leads him across the floor. As they turn, they stop. Brooks, Frank, Deyi, and Guang look back at them. Eddie and Jack push each other away like each have the plague. The guys hoot and whistle at them. The men return to the assignment desk and signal to the Sergeant who we met during their first flight together. He nods and marks a sheet. We see the numbers “10,” “12,” “15,” get written next to their names and under a column marked “Total”, numbers like, “500,” “492,” “516″ get written down as well. In a church, everyone gets set to rehearse Jack’s and Ruth’s wedding. They point to Guang to serve as the man to walk Ruth down the aisle. He reluctantly accepts. Everyone gets in position. The organist begins playing the organ, Guang and Ruth walk down the aisle. Guang is frozen in his expression. As a smiling Jack, Frank, and Deyi wait at the front, a smiling Ruth glances to Guang just as he has snuck a look at her. He returns an uncomfortable smile and they go back to looking straight ahead. At the wedding reception, Jack and Ruth dance, and Jack, while not Fred Astaire, is competent. Everyone applauds. Guang smiles as he watches the happy Jack and Ruth kiss, but he is the picture of underlying envy. At their table, Peizhu, applauding, looks at Eddie and clasps her hands still. He feels her gaze and looks at her. They smile at each other. Eddie turns back to the happy couple and continues applauding. Peizhu thinks and then joins him in looking out and applauding again. Eddie, Peizhu, Brooks, Frank, Guang, and Deyi, gather with Jack and Ruth for a group photo. At night, Eddie and Brooks disembark from their plane and start to direct the unloading of supplies. In their cockpit, Frank and Guang take off during extremely rainy conditions. Their plane barely gets off, but being experienced pilots now, they nod at each other. In their cockpit, Deyi points to the side. Jack looks to see a magnificent moon appearing in a cloud clearing. They both stare out in wonder. The men return to the assignment desk again and signal to the Sergeant. He nods and marks a sheet. More numbers are written, “10,” “17,” “22,” next to the names of the men, and under a column marked “Total”, the numbers, “1025,” “988,” “1007” appear. The men pass a makeshift memorial for dead pilots, a grim reminder of the daily dangers they face. They trade looks and walk on. The men and Peizhu and Ruth enjoy a barbecue at a park. They gather around a picnic table with food and beer.
After hiking to the top of a mountain, Eddie and Peizhu get to a beautiful flower laden field, in which they run through like children; laughing, chasing each other, until Eddie corrals Peizhu and pulls her lovingly into his arms. Eddie asks Peizhu playfully if she loves him. She returns silence. He makes a gesture (”Well?”). Peizhu says, “The moment of silence is better than making a sound.” She moves up to his lips and they join in a passionate kiss. They release and Peizhu then asks Eddie to marry her. Eddie is stunned. He asks Peizhu what would happen to her if he died? “There is no ‘what if’?’ I do not allow you to mention death again. We will act according to God’s will. If God wants you to go to heaven, I will go to heaven with you. We will become a pair of birds in the sky. If God wants you to stay on the earth, I will stay on the earth too. We will be a pair of linked branches on earth. We will stay together for our whole lives, and never separate. We’ll live and die together, go through thick and thin together. Because we love each other. God is love. God said, love is forever. Love is endless.” Eddie steps back to her. They look at each other, deeply, and then kiss again. We get a series of shots of Eddie and Peizhu getting married. For this day, life for Eddie, Peizhu, and their friends are the very best of times.
On the tarmac, as Eddie and Brooks watch the ground crew fuel their plane they talk about the increasing gas shortage. They see Frank, Guang, Jack, and Deyi going to their planes. Eddie calls out, “You guys all going out now too?” Franks responds, “Yeah! Supposedly. That’s if we got enough gas to get this baby airborne!” Must be a fire sale!” Jack says, “HEY! WHO’S DOING THE BARBECUE THIS WEEKEND?” The men all point to someone else and laugh. Later, we see three planes fly over the Himalayas, one after another. Eddie flies while Brooks arranges many packages of snack supplies on the floor. Eddie chuckles, “Do you think you picked up enough there?” “They gave me a deal over at the store. I figured why not.” Brooks shows him a package of cookies. “Chocolate chip, my favorite.” Eddie laughs. As they fly later, however, Brooks points to his right. Eddie turns and follows his gaze to see two Japanese zeros illuminated in the moonlight. Brooks speaks into his radio, “Hey! We’ve got two zeros at four o’clock. I repeat, two zeros at four o’clock.” The other men acknowledge. “And they’ve spotted US!” Jack says. Eddie says, “Tell them we go into the clouds!” “Take her up boys!” Brooks says, “We’ll lose’em in the clouds!” Eddie pulls on the control lever and the plane rises. All three planes, traveling in a line, reach the clouds and disappear. Shortly, the Japanese zeros appear and cruise just below the cloud line. While the men are safe for now they are also flying blind and in the distance is the “Eye of the Needle.” Each of them play a waiting, guessing game, until Jack and Deyi, running out of patience, start to panic. Jack tells the rest and they pull out. Eddie picks up the radio. “Jack! Not yet! We still got some time.” Jack’s plane drops from the clouds and flies away. A few beats pass and the zeros reappear and fly in their direction. Deyi looks out the window and below. “Anything?” Jack asks Deyi. But before Deyi can answer bullets riddle their cock pit and Deyi is hit bad. The others hear Jack on the radio, “Deyi’s been hit! Deyi’s been hit!” Eddie gets on the radio and frantically tells Jack to get back in the clouds. But Jack can’t. His plane is damaged. As he looks at the approaching mountain, his expression accepts his fate. He looks at the control panel ahead and sees a pocket wedding photo of Jack and Ruth. He pulls the photo and holds it close and keeps his eyes on it as the mountain fills the window. From afar we see Jack’s plane crash into the mountain, erupting into a gigantic fireball. As the camera pulls back we see the two Japanese zeros. The predators have vanquished their prey. Back in their cockpit, Eddie and Brooks accept the truth. They also realize they should be on the “Eye of the Needle” soon. Eddie pulls the plane up and just as they ascend above the clouds they are right before the needle. Brooks gets on the radio and tells Frank and Guang to pull up immediately as the needle is closer than they thought. Eddie make a last second turn and the plane just fits in between the peaks. Guang grimaces as he pulls the plane up. Frank is helping him hold the lever. Guang’s plane rises, turns, but is not able to get through clean. The end of the left wing clips the mountain, and this then turns the plane to the left, which results in the right side of the tail clipping the other peak. Eddie listens as Frank says, “We hit the mountain! We’re not gonna make it! We’re…” the radio goes dead. Eddie and Brooks wait and trade looks. Eddie barks back, “Frank! We’ll get a search party out for you guys!”
Back at the hangar Eddie and Brooks approach the Lieutenant. They are told that Jack and Deyi crashed and are dead. They take a few beats to mourn and then Eddie tells him about Frank and Guang, but he can’t get the Lieutenant to do anything. The Lieutenant tells them to get ready for their return flights. Eddie angrily demands that a search party be sent out. The Lieutenant gives them the brutal truth. “Look, even if we had the manpower, we couldn’t. There’s nowhere to land, you’re talking inaccessible ridges, sub-zero temperatures, and the fact is we can’t afford to risk other lives just so that you can sleep at night. They’re dead.” Brooks and the Lieutenant stare each other down. “So you’re saying basically all of us… we’re all on our own?” “It’s called WAR pilot,” the Lieutenant responds, “If you haven’t figured that one out yet, I suggest you do so. You might stand a chance of getting through this. Now get some chow and get ready to take off again. You’ll be taking separate planes. I’m sorry. Good flying.” The Lieutenant walks away. Brooks and Eddie watch him. Back in the Stafford’s recently rented apartment news of Jack’s death has already reached Ruth, who is dressed in a nurse’s outfit. She sits on a chair and is surrounded by other women who hold and console her while she weeps into a tissue. Peizhu serves everyone tea and cookies. She gestures that the refreshments will be left on a table. She glances at Ruth and becomes emotional, wiping away her own tears. She looks around the apartment and sees boxes of still unopened personal items that now represent the cruel ending of a beautiful dream. Peizhu walks outside onto the balcony. She takes in the quiet nighttime air but it does not soothe her restless soul. She looks up into the sky and sighs. Back at the airstrip it is raining hard on the tarmac. Eddie and Brooks walk to their planes oblivious to the water pouring down. They stop under the cover of Eddie’s plane. The mood is somber. “They can train you in a lot of things, but I guess not this huh?” Brooks says, “I can’t believe it. On the other side of the Hump, we’re walking out together, thinking about who hosts the barbecue this weekend. And now… they’re gone.” They stop and look at each other. “Brooks they knew what they signed up for.” Eddie says, “We all did. Maybe God had other plans.” You think so Eddie?” Brooks says, “Really? You think God has a hand in all of this shit?” “I don’t know. I tell you I’ve seen things that…” Eddie can’t finish, “I don’t know Brooksie.” They both can’t find the words. They look out into the night, helpless, the tears starting to flow. After a few beats they look at each other with sad, fateful, friends for life looks and part ways. After turning away, Eddie stops, and then turns back to watch Brooks as he walks away. Eddie sighs and turns back to walk to his plane.
In his cockpit, Eddie is checking his controls when the Lieutenant comes over the radio and tells him to hold for a group of Kuomintang soldiers that need a lift who would be arriving within two hours. Brooks comes on the radio and jokes that now they can’t race to finally settle who’s really faster between them. Eddie smiles. “Hey do me a favor when you get back. Give Peizhu a call and let her know I’ll be real late okay? Tell her don’t wait up.” “Roger that,” Brooks says. In Brooks’ cockpit another pilot, a friendly sort of fellow, sits in the co-pilot’s chair. “Man, I know why there’s a gas shortage.” The Pilot says, “I think we’re packing every barrel there is in China. Who were you talking to?” Brooks turns, “Eddie Long, one of the best pilots you’ll ever meet.” Later, Eddie’s co-pilot gets inside and says, “Finally, all on board. We’re set to fly.” Eddie nods and gets set to fire up the engines. Back in Brooks’ plane, he and his co-pilot are talking and getting to know each other. Unbeknownst to them, two Japanese zeros appear just out of their sight and begin to approach. The co-pilot talks about falling in love with a local Chinese woman. “How often do you hear of a U.S. guy falling head over heels for a Chinese woman?” Brooks turns melancholy. He looks out into the night as he says, “It happens.” A few moments later there is an EXPLOSION and the cockpit explodes into FIRE! The peaceful night sky is obliterated as Brooks’ plane explodes in a combination of ORANGE FIRE and BLACK SMOKE. What small, fine pieces that remain of the machine begins to fall to the ground in a series of burning objects that leave trailing smoke. A few beats pass and the two Japanese zeros, like deadly, emotionless sharks having ravaged another victim, fly away. Back in Eddie’s plane, his co-pilot pours him a cup of coffee and offers it to him. Eddie shakes his head and concentrates on flying. But after a beat, his nose picks up a smell. “What’s that?” Eddie asks. The co-pilot sniffs. “Smells like smoke.” Eddie tells the co-pilot to take over and Eddie gets up and walks to the back. He opens the cabin door and finds soldiers huddled around a makeshift campfire that burns newspapers. Reacting more to the death of his friends, Eddie explodes. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU GUYS MAKING A FIRE IN THE CABIN?! THAT’S DANGEROUS! PUT OUT THE FIRE IMMEDIATELY!!!” The soldiers do as Eddie demands, stomping out the fire. But after Eddie calms down from his tirade he notices that these soldiers of the Kuomintang, all Chinese, look tired, malnourished, and with only a single layer of clothing to serve as their very thin clothes, they hold themselves and shiver in response to the cold Himalayan air. Eddie can speak no more. He realizes he has been too harsh. Eddie returns to the cockpit and reaches over to pull up the large thermos. “I’m taking this. Those guys are freezing back there. I’m going to take the snacks too.” Eddie comes through the door and throws blankets to the men. The soldiers eagerly grab them, open them up and wrap them around themselves, two and three to a blanket. Eddie offers the bags to them and the soldiers, uncertain at first, start to reach in and grab packets of cookies and crackers. Eddie places the thermos on top of one of the chairs and leaves. The soldiers continue to search and distribute the packets of snacks and proceed to open them like mad men and devour whatever they get. Eddie returns with more blankets, more bags of snacks, and a couple of coffee mugs. He pours coffee from the thermos and gives it to a soldier and gestures to him to drink and pass it down. He fills another coffee mug and gives it to another soldier and points him to pass it down. The soldiers take sips of the hot coffee and pass the mugs down and then proceed to gorge themselves on the cookies and crackers. One Soldier in particular glances at Eddie with an admiring look. Eddie steps back and wipes his mouth, realizing now that these men were near starving. They continue to pass the mug around and take turns sipping. Eddie stares, astonished.
Later, after they’ve touched down, the soldiers pass Eddie and ask to shake his hand. Eddie obliges them. They smile at him, pat his back, and make their way to another section of the airport. Eddie is visibly moved by their gestures. The Soldier who had looked at Eddie before turns to look back and gives Eddie another nod of thanks. Eddie nods back. The Soldier turns and walks away. Eddie takes a beat to think and then proceeds to walk on. As he continues, he sees something in the distance and squints. It is Peizhu, who upon seeing Eddie breaks out in tears of relief and rushes into his arms and is a crying mess. Eddie asks what is wrong and then realizes that she didn’t know he was delayed. Peizhu says, “I heard what had happened. When your plane didn’t come back on time I thought you were gone too!” “What? Didn’t Brooks tell you? I TOLD HIM TO! Sorry, he must’ve forgot. Peizhu I’m so sorry. I’m safe. I’m right here! I’m safe.” Peizhu’s eyes open. Something Eddie has just said makes her think. Eddie holds and comforts her, stroking her hair. “Such a sad day. Jack, Deyi, Frank… Guang. It makes you wonder about God’s plan. That’s what Brooks asked me and I told him there’s a reason for everything. There must be. But that guy, geez, oh God… he must’ve just forgot. Where is he? When I see him I’m gonna…” As Eddie looks for Brooks, Peizhu realizes he doesn’t know. She slowly raises her head and looks into Eddie’s eyes. As she stares, her expression, while still registering sadness, begins to communicate more. Eddie starts to sense something. “Eddie…,” Peizhu struggles to find the words, “Brooks…” Eddie looks at Peizhu. It takes a beat for him to interpret her words and expression. He instinctively takes another obligatory look around, but knows. “Oh no… no…” Peizhu holds Eddie with all her might for now it is Eddie’s turn to cry.
We get a series of shots depicting Eddie in mourning. He visits the picnic table in the park where he would enjoy barbecues with the guys. He sits at the bar having a drink and looks to the table that he and the guys used to eat at. He stands outside of the fence encircling the tarmac and stares at the planes on the runway. He turns and walks away. Later, he sits on a bench looking out to nowhere, alone in his memories of the guys. Tex drives up in a Jeep, cuts the engine, takes a moment to survey Eddie’s mood, and then gets out and walks to him. He takes a seat near to Eddie. Eddie thanks him for giving him time to be away. He looks at the barracks. “This was where we bunked. You know if you would’ve said that we’d all end up being the best of friends when we first met, I would’ve said that was impossible. Brooks used to say if we focused on what made us alike rather than different, we’d make this a better world. He was right.” Tex nods. Quiet. The wind blows. Another Jeep drives up and a private calls to them. “Sir, they said to come get you!” Later, Ben leads Tex and Eddie outside of the building. “The members of the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army went in and got them out. They were led by farmers who saw the plane come down.” “What’s their condition?” Tex asks. “We’re told they’re busted up pretty bad sir,” Ben says, “But, they’re alive!” Ben, Tex, and Eddie join others and exit through the doors. Outside they see Chinese soldiers take out two stretchers from a military truck. One carries Frank and the other Guang. They are covered in bandages. Later in the hospital, Frank and Guang lie in beds, their bodies sporting bandages and casts. Eddie stands next to Frank. Ruth holds a cup and straw for Guang to sip in some liquids. Guang finishes and nods his thank you. As Ruth starts to turn, Guang reaches out with his bandaged arm and touches her. “Sorry… for your loss.” Ruth is touched. She looks at the injured Guang and sympathy reads on her face. A connection is made between the two. Ruth nods and leaves. Frank tells Eddie to make sure that people know what the farmers and soldiers did. “They just wouldn’t give up on us. Guang, he wouldn’t let me give up too. It was so cold but he kept saying, ‘Don’t give up, Frank, help is coming. Don’t give up.'” Guang, tearing up, explains. “I WAS ready to give up, Eddie. But then I see Deyi, Jack, and Brooks. They’re there. They say, “No Guang, no…,” Guang says, starting to cry, “Help is coming soon. Don’t give up.” So… I do that. I don’t give up.” Guang breaks down. Quiet. Each man in their own thoughts. Frank breaks down as well. “Jack… Deyi… Brooksie. Oh man…” Eddie explodes in anger. “Japanese dogs. We’ll get them one day. I promise you. We’ll get them.” Tex overhears this as he enters the room. “Well you’ll get your chance.” Eddie turns. “Straight from the top, Eddie, General Chennault himself. You’ve been assigned to the American Air Force Number 14 Flight Bomber Brigade. You’re getting what you’ve wanted, Eddie. You’re gonna get to fight the Japanese.” Eddie’s expression reflects his surprise and resolve. Frank smiles, “Go get’em Tiger!” Eddie turns to Frank to see him return a smiling wink. The words have added meaning. They are the words that Brooks once said to him. Eddie then looks to Guang, who nods his approval. “Now Eddie… now is the time to FIGHT!” As Eddie looks away in thought his determination is etched in his expression. The moment he has waited for has finally arrived.
The next day, we are at Zhijiang Airport. After hearing an emotional and inspiring speech by General Chennault, Eddie and the rest of the Flying Tiger group are ready for battle. As he heads for his bomber, Eddie spots Peizhu and walks over. As they look at each other Peizhu can’t find the words. She is both afraid and yet proud. Eddie doesn’t know what to say. Peizhu finds the perfect words. “The moment of silence is better than making a sound.” Eddie smiles confidence. They kiss passionately and then Eddie is off. It is August 13, 1944, and the Tigers target is Tengchong. In bright sunshine a group of B-24 bombers, accompanied by a number of P-40’s, fly boldly in formation through the sky. In the cockpit Eddie flies with grim determination. His time has come. A co-pilot to the side works at his own controls. On the ground, in the heart of the city of Tengchong, Japanese soldiers tie Chinese men to wooden poles, readying them for “bayonet practice.” Soldiers point their rifles at terrified Chinese spectators and force them to stand by and watch. They plead for the soldiers to stop. The soldiers fix their bayonets to their rifles and the SCREAMS magnify in desperation. There seems nothing that can be done to stop the oncoming executions. But then soldiers and spectators alike sense something. Everyone looks up to the sky. In another part of the city, at Tengchong’s English Consulate Building, many Japanese soldiers walk on the street and mill about smoking cigarettes, joking, laughing. But then they, too, start to look around and then up to the sky. Inside the basement of the building, 33 Japanese officers are having a meeting. They gather around a large table on which a number of strategic field maps have been placed. They hear the sound of distant bombs and stop and stare at one another. At the door, a frantic Japanese soldier appears to tell them about bombers coming. The building begins to shake. Everyone starts to panic. One Japanese officer, the apparent leader, takes charge. “STAY WHERE YOU ARE! We are protected in here!” But another officer disagrees. “But if this place gets hit this will be our coffin!” Back in the sky Eddie’s B-24 continues to fly. His co-pilot says, “Spotters on the ground said the officers are in the consulate building!” Eddie nods and maneuvers the plane. He waits a beat then releases a lever. Outside multiple bombs drop from the plane’s underside. On the streets bombs explode everywhere as Japanese soldiers run and SCREAM. One soldier is literally obliterated; his body split into many parts. Another soldier is blown 20 feet into the air. In the park, the soldiers turn and run towards the street. The spectators rush to free the Chinese men. In the basement the room EXPLODES and the ceiling and walls collapse, killing everybody. In his cockpit, Eddie, in complete control, turns the plane. On the ground all of the Japanese soldiers gather and aim their rifles to the sky and shoot a barrage of bullets into the air. Back in his plane Eddie flips a switch and squeezes the trigger. On his wings GUNFIRE shoots out of the gun barrels. Eddie grits his teeth and holds onto the trigger. On the city streets, Japanese soldiers are brutally cut down. They SCREAM as their torsos are ripped open, limbs are shot off, heads are decapitated, and explosions of blood shoot from their wounds. Eddie’s B-24 passes overhead and rises higher into the sky. The watching Chinese people, hardly believing their eyes, hold onto each other. Up the road, American and Chinese soldiers rush into the city and shoot running Japanese soldiers. The Chinese people see this and cheer their hearts out. Eddie breathes hard, as the adrenalin released from years of pent up rage has him nearly hyper-ventilating. But as the moments pass he begins to calm himself.
But just as he takes a big cleansing breath, his co-pilot says, “We got visitors, Eddie.” Far in the distance, two ominous dark figures fly side by side. In their respective planes, the Japanese pilots sneer and get ready to cut down another plane. Knowing that what is approaching are Japanese zeros, Eddie expresses what appears as a look of fateful resignation. Death, it seems, will soon be at hand. We get a closeup of Eddie and he closes his eyes and we flashback on his experiences. We see: Eddie falling out of bed in response to the bombing; Eddie and Chaojie see black smoke in the sky; Eddie screaming at the massacre in Hong Kong; Chaojie, Wu Langqu, Qianping, Qishao in the moonlight; Eddie being held back at seeing the massacre at the hut; Eddie, in anguish, throwing the rock into the stream; Qichang scolding Eddie after the alley fight; Qichang and Eddie say good-bye at the train station; Eddie bargaining with the restaurant owner to hire him; Eddie, Guang, and Deyi cheering as they read the list; Eddie asking Frank a question on the plane; Brooks saying “Go get’em tiger,” to Eddie; Frank at the party winking at Eddie; Eddie and Peizhu dancing the waltz; Jack apologizing to Eddie; Robert giving advice to Eddie about the “Hump;” Eddie reading the letter about his family’s death; Eddie and Peizhu getting married; Eddie watching Jack leave on the tarmac; Jack looking at Ruth’s picture as his plane explodes; Brooks smiling as his plane explodes; Peizhu tells Eddie of Brooks’ death; Guang, all bandaged up in the hospital, saying “Fight.” Chennault giving his speech; Peizhu putting her finger to Eddie’s lips; Chaojie giving Eddie the written dictum. It is opened and reads, “My heart will never die, if my nation’s disgrace is not avenged.” The CAMERA MOVES IN for an ECU of the word, “AVENGED,” and MOVES IN CLOSER until it FILLS THE SCREEN. Back in the cockpit, a hail of BULLETS rip through the cockpit and continues. The co-pilot reacts at being hit and for a brief moment it seems as if Eddie may have been hit as well. But then Eddie’s eyes OPEN and the illusion of doubt and indecision of before is replaced with resolve and confidence. Eddie sneers and squeezes the trigger. GUNFIRE shoots out of the gun barrels and the zeros are blasted with continuing shots which EXPLODES about the planes and through the windshields, hitting the pilots and causing them to cough up blood like erupting volcanoes. Eddie continues firing, “AAAGGGHHH!!!” as his mission of revenge is at its apex. The zeros EXPLODE into FIREBALLS and smoke quickly fills the air. A beat passes and Eddie’s B-24 passes in between the two fireballs, just as he has cleared the mountain passes before. Eddie breathes hard and looks to the side. His co-pilot rises from the floor covering a wound to his arm. “How bad?” Eddie asks. “I’m okay,” the co-pilot responds, “You got’em?” Eddie nods and sports a look of redemption. “Yeah… I got’em.” Eddie’s B-24 flies into a glorious setting sun.
We return to the present as Eddie sports a far away look as the Emcee talks about him. “Long Qiming… Eddie Long, proved his courage and skills and compassion and valor in so many ways. Whether as the youngest pilot among the Flying Tigers, flying the treacherous Hump Route for over 2100 hours, or as a bomber with the 14th Bombers Brigade participating in numerous missions that called for him to place his life on the line time and time again, he exhibited all the traits of a true hero. But of all his accomplishments, for Eddie, none would be greater than the task he was asked to do on August 25th, 1945. For on that day, he and Captain David Lee “Tex” Hill, received an order from General Wedemeyer, and took off from Liangshan, Sichuan, and landed in Hankou, to accept the Japanese Army’s surrender. For being present to formally accept the surrender was both an official and personal vindication for Eddie, who like many Chinese had to endure their motherland being destroyed. It was the ultimate victory of good over evil.” Appearing on the projector screen is a black and white photograph of the Japanese surrender at Hankou. The Emcee continues. “You know, today is a day of celebration. Sixty years since V-J day. But in a way, as Eddie has told me, today is also somewhat of a sad day. Sad because all who were by his side have now gone.” The projector screen now shows a series of quick photographs which include: Eddie’s family photo when he was a boy; the group photo at Jack’s and Ruth’s wedding; and the wedding photo of Eddie and Peizhu. Eddie’s eyes become moist as his eyes look up at this final photo. The Emcee concludes. “Sadly, he is one of the last Flying Tigers still living in China. But because of this we are especially HONORED to have him present today. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Long Qiming, Eddie Long, a true Chinese hero!” There is thunderous applause as the audience gives Eddie a standing ovation. Eddie looks down.
Later, Eddie passes various display boards for honored veterans. He comes to his and we see photos of his life and family, featuring Peizhu, their children, and many grandchildren. There is also a photo of an elderly Guang and Ruth and their family. Words say, “Pan Guang passed away in 1996, his wife Ruth passed away in 2001.” Another photo shows an elderly Frank at the center of his large family of children and grandchildren. Words read, “Frank MacKenna, one of Eddie’s best friends, went back to Boston where he lived until 1999.” Eddie solemnly looks all of this over. Afterwards, during an outdoor reception on a veranda overlooking the city, people mill about and talk, holding glasses of wine and small paper plates filled with food. Eddie breaks away from a group and walks out to the guard rail to take in the view. The Elderly Man we first saw at the beginning of our story goes to the refreshment table and picks up a few cookies and places them on his plate. He approaches and offers Eddie a cookie. Eddie looks at him curiously. The Elderly Man says, “My name is Zhang Wei and I would like to offer you a cookie Mr. Eddie Long. Over sixty years ago you gave me and other cold and starving soldiers of the Kuomintang, some blankets, hot coffee, and… some cookies. The first bit of food we had in nearly a week.” Eddie remembers and looks at the Elderly Man with fondness, as if he is an old and long lost friend. He smiles and takes a cookie and holds it up. “Thank you,” Eddie says. “No,” the Elderly Man responds, “No. Thank YOU.” The Elderly Man also takes a cookie and the two Men start munching as they take in the magnificent view of the city of Beijing. Upon this majestic sight we see a superimposition. It reads:
In 2005, Long Qiming – Eddie Long – was one of a number of veterans who were awarded the Chinese Anti-Japanese war victory 60-year anniversary medal by President Hu Jintao for his heroism in World War II.
This fades and another superimposition appears. It reads:
Eddie Long died on October 1, 2014, finally reuniting with the love of his life, Peizhu Long, who preceded him in death on July 16, 1972.
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My greatest wish is for peace. Eddie Qiming Long