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Widow of WWII Flying Tiger Anna Chennault dies at age 94

Anna Chenault, wife of WWII Flying Tiger leader General Claire Chennault and influential political figure, dies at the age of 94

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Claire and Anna Chennault.

Claire and Anna Chennault. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Anna Chennault, the Chinese-born widow of Flying Tiger commander Claire Chennault and influential political figure in Washington for many decades, died at the age of 94 on Friday.

Chennault died in her home at the Watergate complex in Washington from complications from a stroke she suffered in December of last year. Though she died on Friday an official announcement was not made until Tuesday.

Born as Chen Xiangmei (陳香梅) in Beijing in 1925, she met her future husband and Flying Tiger group commander General Claire Chennault when she interviewed him while working as a correspondent for the Central News Agency in 1944. The two eventually married in 1947 and settled in Taiwan.

Widow of WWII Flying Tiger Anna Chennault dies at age 94
Anna Chennault. (CNA image)

After WWII, she joined her husband as a member of the China Lobby, which was a group in the U.S. organized to support the Kuomintang regime. After her husband died in 1958, she continued to work for the China Lobby and eventually became an influential political figure in Washington lobbying support for Taiwan.

She worked under President John F. Kennedy to help resettle Chinese refugees, acted as a secret envoy to South Vietnam for President Richard Nixon and served on numerous other presidential commissions through President Bill Clinton.

Widow of WWII Flying Tiger Anna Chennault dies at age 94
Anna Chennault. (CNA image)

She supported Chiang Kai-shek's efforts to build an anti-communist government in Taiwan and strongly opposed Nixon's visit to China in 1972 and President Jimmy Carter's decision in 1979 to establish full diplomatic relations with the communist country at the expense of Taiwan.

She nevertheless met with Deng Xiaoping in 1981 unofficially on behalf of President Ronald Reagan in order to counter the Soviet Union. In March 1990, she led of delegation of Taiwanese businessmen to China and last visited the land of her birth in 2015.

Widow of WWII Flying Tiger Anna Chennault dies at age 94
Anna Chennault's 91st birthday. (Image by Chinanews.com)

In 2015, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presented a commemorative medal to Chennault in recognition of her husband's contributions to Taiwan at the Presidential Office in Taipei.