Last-Surviving WWII Flying Tiger & SIA Founding Pilot Ho Weng Toh Passes Away At 103

WWII Flying Tiger & SIA Pioneer Pilot Dies At 103

Former World War 2 Flying Tiger and founding pilot of Singapore Airlines (SIA) Ho Weng Toh has died at age 103.

Mr Ho was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, back in 1920, and was attending university in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded.

His nephew broke the news of his death in a lengthy social media post about the man he lovingly calls “Uncle Winkie”.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean also paid tribute to the late Mr Ho in a Facebook post.

Trained as a pilot & became a Flying Tiger in Hong Kong

Mr Ho Weng Toh passed away at “a grand 103 years old” on Saturday (6 Jan) morning, his nephew John Ho confirmed on Facebook.

In the post, John said that his “dearest uncle Winkie” had lived a life many could only dream of.

The late Mr Ho was born in 1920 in Ipoh, Malaysia.

He was the first son his parents had after a string of five daughters, said John, who reckons his uncle’s birth must have brought much joy to his grandparents.

Following a stint at Senior Cambridge, Mr Ho saved enough money to attend university in Hong Kong. But, it was also at that time that the Japanese invaded.

He managed to escape to an unoccupied part of China and became a trainee pilot, “despite his small stature”.

Through his pilot training in Arizona, he learnt the ropes of flying B-25 bombers under the Flying Tigers wing.

Flying tiger pilot

Source: John Ho on Facebook

“He flew many missions — the toughest were over the “Hump” from Burma into occupied China and then back — the chances of survival were exceptionally low,” John explained.

“But survive he did.”

When the war ended, John said that Mr Ho returned to Ipoh a hero, and, by all accounts, it was a memorable celebration.

Flew SIA’s Boeing 737 fleet when airline first started

In the years following World War 2, Mr Ho made a living by flying both transport and passenger planes in Malaya.

Speaking on that period of his uncle’s life, John remarked, “It was [a] tough time as the local pilots were treated as second-class by the white expatriate pilots.”

Eventually, Mr Ho found his way to SIA as one of its founding pilots.

Flying tiger pilot

Source: John Ho on Facebook

As a Chief Pilot for the SIA’s Boeing 737 fleet, Mr Ho trained many aspiring pilots throughout his career before larger aircraft took over.

“With him ends a generation in my family; all my 10 paternal aunts and uncles have now passed. An era has ended,” John expressed.

He recalled how his paternal aunts and uncles pampered and guided him when he was younger, dubbing them a generation who had a “much tougher and unpredictable life”.

John highlighted that this preceding generation “sacrificed so much so that [his] generation could live a peaceful and much easier life.”

Source: John Ho on Facebook

“To him, and the rest of that generation, I say thank you.”

Teo Chee Hean pays tribute to late WWII veteran

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean also paid tribute to the late Mr Ho.

Source: Teo Chee Hean on Facebook

In a Facebook post on 6 Jan, SM Teo wrote, “Our long-time Pasir Ris resident, Captain Ho Weng Toh, 103, one of the last surviving Flying Tigers who flew bombers in World War 2 passed on peacefully this morning. He was also one of our first Singapore Airlines pilots.”

Accompanying the post were photographs of SM Teo’s visit to Mr Ho when he turned 100 years old.

In the pictures, SM Teo and Mr Ho can be seen posing with a figurine of a plane and a poster of the latter’s book, ‘Memoirs Of A Flying Tiger: The Story of a WWII and SIA Pioneer Pilot’.

“May he rest in peace,” added SM Teo.

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Featured image adapted from John Ho on Facebook and Teo Chee Hean on Facebook

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