On the fateful day, Birch and some Chinese Nationalist companions were sent on an official mission for the U.S. Army to determine if a group of nearby forces were friend or foe. Those forces turned out to be part of Mao Tse-tung's Communist army. They knew that John Birch, who had lived among the Chinese since arriving in that country in 1940 and was well-known as a highly respected leader and friend of the Chinese people, would oppose Mao's plan to subvert the entire nation. So, John Birch was killed in cold blood and one of his companions, a Chinese officer named Lieutenant Tung, was wounded, though not fatally. It was Tung who later supplied details about the unprovoked attack on the Birch-led mission.
John Birch had gone to China as a Christian missionary. Early in 1942, he rescued Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his crew after their daring raid over Tokyo and their flight into China. Doolittle was under instructions to complete the bombing mission, travel as far as fuel would take them into China, and then bail out and let the plane go. With Japanese forces searching for them, the Doolittle crew was fortunate to have been found by John Birch who led them back to friendly forces in China.
Doolittle immediately informed the Americans led by General Claire Chennault of "Flying Tigers" fame about the remarkable young American he and his crew had the good fortune to encounter. Chennault sent for John Birch, soon commissioned him as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and assigned him the dangerous work of an intelligence gatherer reporting on and countering Japanese efforts in China. Birch became a highly decorated asset during the years 1942 to 1945. All who served for the U.S. in that area came to know of his legendary exploits.
After his death, John Birch's parents were notified that he had perished but no details were given them. Over several years, they tried from their home in Georgia to learn what had happened to their son. Once China fell to communism in 1949, George and Ethel Birch were permitted to know some of the circumstances about his death. They concluded that elements within the U.S. government suppressed information about the murder of an American army officer by Chinese communists because State Department officials and others were busily promoting the false idea that the communists weren't enemies of the U.S. and the nationalist Chinese but were merely agrarian reformers.
Robert Welch, a businessman from Massachusetts, learned some of the story about John Birch, met with his parents, and gathered additional information from then-Senator William Knowland of California. In 1954, he authored the small book The Life of John Birch to pay tribute to the remarkable individual he labeled the first casualty of World War III between communism and Christian-style civilization. In 1958, Welch launched The John Birch Society with Mr. and Mrs. Birch's eager permission. They became Society members immediately and did what they could to awaken fellow Americans to the subversion of America being carried out by communists and pro-communists within our country.
The Life of John Birch is the story of a truly remarkable American hero. Teachers who assign students the task of reading and reporting about a book featuring an exemplary American would do well to steer them to The Life of John Birch. It would be hard to find a better subject for students, and for any American interested in some factual history about a remarkable fellow citizen and his short but extremely praiseworthy life.
Here is a video presentation of the life of John Birch which was produced in the 1960s: