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The History of the Blood Chit
By AlphaNews
9/17/2015 12:13:00 PM

The Blood Chit, found on Alpha's special MA-1 and L-2B, is an amazing piece of U.S. military history.   The Blood Chit is a piece of cloth, carried by pilots and soldiers, inscribed with rescue and reward information written in the local language of where the service members are operating.  The Blood Chit states that the bearer of the Chit is American, requires assistance, and that those who help the soldier or pilot will be rewarded for their service.  Blood Chits are most commonly carried by pilots, but are also issued to certain infantrymen who are deemed by the U.S. military to be at a "high risk of isolation." 

Though the U.S. military use of the Blood Chit began in WWII, it's roots go back to the beginning of the United States and President George Washington.  In 1793, a French balloonist named Jean-Pierre Blanchard, came to the United States to demonstrate the capabilities of his new hot air balloon.  However, at this time, the balloon had very poor controls and Blanchard regularly found himself landing far away from where the balloon took off.  This posed a problem for Blanchard when he came to the U.S. because he did not speak English.  To help Blanchard when he got lost, President George Washington gave him a letter to present to anyone on the ground.  It stated:

"To all citizens of the United States, and others, that in his passage, descent, return, or journeying elsewhere, they oppose no hindrance or molestation to the said Mr. Blanchard; and that on the contrary, they receive and aid him with that humanity and good will which may render honor to their country, and justice to an individual so distinguished by his efforts to establish and advance an art, in order to make it useful to mankind in general."

Legend states that the letter came in handy when Blanchard's balloon descended into Deptford, Pennsylvania.  Two local farmers were scared by the unknown and mysterious object.  They approached the balloon with pitchforks whereupon Blanchard handed the letter to the farmers and was promptly led back to Philadelphia.

The modern Blood Chit was first used in a military setting by the British Royal Air Corp during WWI when British pilots flew over parts of East Africa and the Middle East.  The British called the blood chits, "Goolie Chits."  Goolie is derived from the Hindustani "goli", meaning ball, and became British slang for testicle; and chit is British slang for note.  The Goolie Chit was so called because local populations of the middle east were known to be-head and castrate captured British pilots.  The Goolie Chit always carried a promise of a cash reward to ensure that downed pilots would be safely returned to their units.  The British Royal Air Force still uses the term "Goolie Chit" today.ndy when Blanchard's balloon descended into Deptford, Pennsylvania.  Two local farmers were scared by the unknown and mysterious object.  They approached the balloon with pitchforks whereupon Blanchard handed the letter to the farmers and was promptly led back to Philadelphia.

The Blood Chit was first used by the U.S. military in 1937 by the American Volunteer Group of China, more famously known as the Flying Tigers.  The Flying Tigers were an all volunteer fighter outfit, based in China, that fought the Japanese prior to the United State's official entry into WWII.  

"This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort.  Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him."The Blood Chit issued to the Flying Tigers was written in several Chinese dialects and contained one of the following statements:


"I am an American airman.  My plane is destroyed.  I cannot speak your language.  I am an enemy of the Japanese.  Please give me food and take me to the nearest Allied military post."

As the U.S. fully entered WWII, Blood Chits were issued to pilots and aircrew around the globe in over 50 different languages.  Reward payments ranged from $50 to $250, depending on the theater of war.  Blood Chits were usually part of a kit that included the inscribed piece of cloth as well as coins or money, and a map.  Pilots and aircrew serving in the Asian theater of war usually sewed the Blood Chit to the outside of their jackets.

The Blood Chit program continued through the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  During the Korean War, approximately 42 reward payments were made for the safe return of downed pilots.  Exact numbers of payments made during the Vietnam War are not available as almost all records of Blood Chits were destroyed.

The Blood Chit program was shuttered after the Vietnam war and then resurrected during Desert Storm in 1991.  The Blood Chit program was officially brought under the control of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (formerly known as the Joint Services Survival, Evasion, Recovery, and Escape Agency) during the 1990s and several changes were made to the program.  First, the Blood Chit was standardized as a square Tyvek material and pre-printed for most locations and languages around the world.  Second, each Blood Chit was given a unique serial number to authenticate reward claims.  Third, all information on the usage and payments related to the Blood Chit were classified.

 The reason for the classification of the Blood Chit information is that many foreigners that have helped U.S. service members return to safety have been tortured and killed.  In some cases, the entire family, and even the entire village, of the individual that helped the U.S. service member have been killed.  Specifically, in 1991 a Korean who immigrated to the U.S. went to the Department of Defense and told a story of how he and his father had helped the crew of a downed B-29 return to safety during the Korean War.  Even though the event happened almost 40 years in the past, the North Koreans tortured and killed the rest of the family of the man who made it to the United States.  Following this event, the Department of Defense quickly decided to classify all information relating to the rescue and reward payments of U.S. service members.

The Blood Chit program expanded during the Global War on Terrorism.  In addition to the standard Blood Chit, service members were issued "Blood Chips."  The Blood Chip was basically a bearer bond and guaranteed $500,000 for "aid and safe return."  Somewhat different than Blood Chits, Blood Chips were issued for select missions to select soldiers and ground or convoy units.

The Blood Chit is a very unique piece of American military history.  Though simple in creation and design, it has served to protect U.S. pilots, crewmembers, and soldiers for almost 80 years.  From basic square cloths to numbered and classified Tyvek squares, the Blood Chit has served an amazing purpose.  Today, Alpha Industries honors this brilliant piece of U.S. military history by incorporating it into our classic MA-1 and L-2B flight jackets. 

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