Chinese American World War II Veterans Honored

Chinese American World War II Veterans Honored

six Chinese American veterans were honored March 9 with the Congressional Gold Medal
Photo by: Chinese American WWII Recognition Project/Karen Zhou

Nearly eight decades after their service during World War II, six Chinese American veterans were honored March 9 with the Congressional Gold Medal.

“World War II was a turning point,” retired Maj. Gen. Bill Chen said during the commemoration at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. “Chinese Americans … served in every theater of war in every branch of the services. And, for most of them, it was their first opportunity to work and live and fight side-by-side with other Americans.”

By the end of World War II, over 13,000 Chinese Americans were serving in the Army, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

During the commemoration, two Army veterans and three Army Air Forces veterans, along with one merchant marine, were given Congress’ highest honor.

The Army honorees include Harry Jung, who enlisted at 17 and served as an infantry rifleman and messenger in the 414th Regiment, 104th Infantry Division, and Wai Hoo Tong, a radio operator in the 15th Cavalry Group under Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

Chinese American troops made vital contributions during World War II to a nation that did not always embrace them.

“During World War II, Chinese American soldiers fought bravely for our country, a country that, in some cases, denied them the privilege of citizenship,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth wrote in a congratulatory letter. “The profound selflessness of their service and their dedication to the ideals of this nation at such a critical time in our nation’s history continue to inspire generations of Americans.”

Chinese Americans who served in World War II left an enduring legacy, Chen said.

“We must forever honor and pay tribute to our World War II veterans,” he said. “Chinese Americans in World War II … defended the freedom that we so much enjoy. They demonstrated their skills, competencies, loyalty and patriotism. … They served with pride, ... and they paved the way for future generations to serve in the U.S. armed forces.”