Arunachal CM, US envoy, inaugurates ‘The Hump WWII Museum’ at Pasighat

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, along with US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, inaugurated ‘The Hump WWII Museum’, the 2nd museum in Asia dedicated to the fallen airmen of the Allied forces during World War II, at Pasighat in East Siang district. “We come here today not just to mark history but to make history. To see the ways in which each one of us is called not just to witness the past but to do something to change the future,” said Garcetti in a ceremony to mark the occasion. He profusely thanked and expressed gratitude to the Indian Government, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, and the team behind the museum, headed by its director, Oken Tayeng. “This isn’t a gift only to Arunachal Pradesh or to the families whose lives will be affected when they come here; it is a gift to India and to the world,” he said. The Hump, Garcetti claimed, isn’t just a museum in some remote part of India, half the world around from the US, but already a world-class museum. Reiterating that the United States is committed to its friendship with India, the US Ambassador informed that on Wednesday there was a meeting between NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and top space officials of India to deepen bilateral cooperation across a broad range of innovation and research-related areas, especially in human exploration and Earth science.

He said that NASA this year would facilitate an Indian being a part of space exploration from its station in the US. Reminding that the US will always remain grateful to the people of Arunachal Pradesh for saving lives and helping US pilots and soldiers during WWII while flying over the Hump, Garcetti said that such ‘human values’ bind the two countries together in friendship. “Today, how can we not but step up to be a great friend to India, to recognize her borders, all of them, to respect them, and to call on the world to do the same?” he said. Khandu, while welcoming the Ambassador and his entourage, said ‘The Hump’ was a tribute from the people of Arunachal Pradesh to the fallen heroes of WWII. He said that history should not be allowed to fade away with time and expressed optimism that this museum will remind the younger generation of the daredevilry of the Allied forces who flew over the ‘Hump’ to fight against the threat to democracy and freedom. Informing that there are about 30 locations where remnants of WWII aircraft are still believed to exist, Khandu urged the US Ambassador to facilitate exploration at these locations to retrieve the remnants and assured the full support of the state government. He also lauded the efforts put in by Oken Tayeng and his team to make his vision a reality. The pilots of the Allied forces nicknamed the air route from airfields in Assam to those in Yunnan in China ‘The Hump’ because their aircraft had to navigate deep gorges and then quickly fly over mountains rising beyond 10,000 feet. From 1942 to 1945, military aircraft transported nearly 6,50,000 metric tons of supplies like fuel, food, and ammunition.

In 2016–17, the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) deployed a team for 30 days in search of the remains of unaccounted-for US airmen. There are approximately 400 US airmen missing in India, most of whose remains are believed to be located in the Himalayan mountains in the North East, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. On his arrival in the state, the US Ambassador posted on X, saying, “Hello, Arunachal Pradesh! I am excited for my first trip here and am captivated by the warmth of the people. The landscapes in Pasighat are stunning! #USIndiaTogether.” Earlier on the day, Khandu, welcoming the US envoy to the state, wrote on a social media post: “Heading towards the oldest town of Arunachal Pradesh, Pasighat. Today I will be attending the inauguration of the ‘Hump World War II’ museum at Pasighat in East Siang district along with US Ambassador to India HE Eric Garcetti. The unique museum will be showcasing the remnants of aircraft that went missing during World War II in Arunachal Pradesh.” The inaugural ceremony was also attended by MLAs Kaling Moyong, Lombo Tayeng, and Ninong Ering, as well as state Chief Secretary Dharmendra and others.