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Last Updated Time:2016/02/23

Kao Chi-han

Kao Chi-han

Martyr Kao Chi-han, born at Tunghwa County of Liaoning Province on 14 May 1907. His father, Kao Huang-chang, a pious Catholic, raised a family of 6 children. Kao Chi-han was the eldest one, and he was smart, loved learning, and was highly ambitious. Born in the northeast of China, he witnessed Japanese and Russians continuous invasion toward China. He therefore possessed a fierce nationalism and was determined to devote himself to the military to defend his nation.

In 1924, he was 28 and applied to the Officer Training Class of the Northeast Army Academy to learn artillery. Soon after, as the warlord in the Northeast of China intended to build up its aerial force, two batches of students were sent to learn aviation in France. Kao, after his great efforts, was selected to France at 18. He first went to the aviation school at Maltra, then to the aviation school of the army at Easter. After graduation, he became an intern at the French Air Force. In 1927, he returned to the Northeast Aviation Agency to be a pilot of the Flying Hawks Team. In 1929, he was assigned to the Northeast Aviation School as instructor pilot.

In 1932 when the 918 incident broke out and the northeastern China fell into the hands of the Japanese, Kao left homeland for the south. With the introduction of good friend, Shin Chaung-fei, he joined the aviation squadron under the Central Aviation Administration to be a pilot. In 1932, the Central Aviation School was set up at Chienchiao, Hangzhou. In addition to hiring Americans counselors, the senior class was also set up, which followed the pattern of American flight system. When graduating from the 1st Class of the Senior Flight Class, Kao was appointed as an instructor pilot. In 1935, Kao was dispatched to Italy to investigate their aviation development and then was assigned to be deputy head of the Training General Squadron and the leader of the 4th Flight Squadron after returning in May of the next year.

In 1937 when China formally declared war on Japan, the 813 Son Fu Campaign broke out. In next day, the 4th Flight Squadron was dispatched to defend the Chienchiao, Hangzhou, from Zhoujiakou. On 14 August, when the 4th Flight Squadron arrived at Chienchaio, they were immediately informed of the forthcoming attack of 96 bombers subordinate to the Japanese Kanoya Aviation Squadron. Kao led his squadron members for interception and soon one enemy airplane was shot down. It marked a good beginning of the victory of the next 8-year resistance war against Japan.

After the air battle, Kao ordered his squadron members to re-fuel since he believed the Japanese aircraft would return next day. As expected, at 7 a.m. on 15 August, Japanese fighter planes attacked again, and the squadron planes bravely destroyed one Japanese fighter. Unfortunately, Kao’s left arm was injured by shot and then piloted his aircraft to land safely by his right arm. Ko left for Lu Mountain for recovery while Generalissimo Chiang received and commended him in person for his outstanding performance. Though Kao had not yet recovered, he returned to his squadron to defend the Capital, Nanjing as he was anxious to kill the enemy that invaded his country. When Nanjing was invaded by enemy aircraft on 12 October, Kao, together with his comrades, encounter them and he shot down one plane. Nonetheless, his old wound hurt him so much that he faint when landing at Susui air base. In the early October, he was promoted to be the Pursuit Group Commander in addition to assuming his original post of the 4th Flight Squadron Commander.

In November, Kao led his squadron members to Lanzhou to take delivery of Russian airplanes. His excellent skill in first flight surprised the Russians. Soon he led 6 airplanes to fly to the east, but they were forced to land at Ankang air base due to bad weather and unfamiliar with the Russian planes. But as the airport was too small, the planes crashed and pilot survived. Russian instructor pilots scolded Kao for his lack of communication with them. The incident was resulted from his eager to receive those planes against Japanese aggression, so he kept silent for the reprimand. Later, he went back to Lanzhou again to take delivery of Russian airplanes.

On 15th, Kao and his comrades flied 13 E-16 Russian planes to Zhoujiakou. They were forced to stay there owing to bad weather. On 21st, it's clearing up, and when they were about to fly back to Nanjing, air raid siren sounded. When Japanese airplanes flew in from the direction of the Great Wall, Russian pilots immediately rushed to find shelter while Kao risked his life to get on his plane. Unfortunately Kao was killed by enemy aircraft since the Russian plane fails to start engine in his three times of attempt in cold weather.

General Chiang was shocked and saddened to hear about his death. In memory of his loyalty and valor, the government conferred posthumous honors on promoting him to the rank of Major General, with public proclamation and special care for his family.