Faithful Heroes: John Birch
John Birch was a captain of the U.S. Army Air Forces, as well as a minister and missionary. He is considered the first casualty of the Cold War.
John Morrison Birch was born on May 28, 1918 in Landour, British India. His parents, George and Ethel Ellis Birch, were missionaries in the Himalayas at the time of his birth.
When he was two years old, his family returned to the United States. He lived in New Jersey and Georgia during his early years.
At the age of twelve, he decided to become a missionary.
Upon graduating Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, he was sent to China. He began learning mandarin Chinese and later left for Free China.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he volunteered as serve as a U.S. Army Officer in China.
Birch assisted Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his men when they had to bail from their plane. Birch’s help of them led to becoming a second lieutenant in the army.
He often held Sunday School church services with the Chinese Christians. This led to his officers being afraid he would run into trouble. When encouraged to take a leave of absence, he replied he would not quit China “until the last Jap” did.
In July 1944, he was promised to captain.
The war officially ended with V-J Day on August 14, 1945. However, the Japanese Army continued to occupy the area.
On August 25, 1945 “Captain Birch was leading a party of eleven Americans, Chinese Nationalists, and Koreans on a mission to gather intelligence in Xuzhou.” The People’s Liberation Army stopped them in a small town where fighting had continued to take place. ” Birch refused to surrender his revolver and harsh words and insults were exchanged. Birch was shot and killed, and a Chinese Nationalist aide was shot and wounded, but survived. The rest of the party was taken prisoner, but were released two months later.”
Several monuments are in his memory and the a society was formed that now bears his name. Lt. Col. Doolittle wrote in his autobiography that he was sure Birch “would not have approved.”