Henry Wong - Army Air Force
Henry Wong was born in Palo Alto, CA on March 9, 1925. He was the oldest of seven children born to Wong Wo Hop and Chew Shee. Wo Hop was admitted into the U.S. in June 1915 when he was nine years old and at age 17, went back to China to find a bride. He returned with Chew Shee through Angel Island, San Francisco, in late 1923; she was officially admitted into the U.S. in December 1923. On the night of his graduation from Palo Alto High School, Henry and several buddies decided they wanted to volunteer for military duty. That same night, they caught a Greyhound bus that took them to Fort Ord in Monterey, CA. Only after recruiters told him he passed the physical exam, did he call his mother to tell her that he was joining the war effort. Henry was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Force in June 1943 and assigned to the 407 Air Service Squadron, an all-Chinese American unit supporting the 14th Air Force’s famed Flying Tigers.
He was trained as a Supply Technician and managed the main warehouse, issuing and receiving clothing, aircraft support equipment and parts. He supervised other men responsible for doing monthly warehouse inventories and tracking requisition supply orders. He traveled extensively through China, Burma, and India. For his service, Henry was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and a World War II Victory Medal. He returned stateside as a Corporal and was honorably discharged in January 1946. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at San Jose State University, courtesy of the GI bill.
Henry married Frances Wong in 1948 and together, they raised five children. He worked at the Palo Alto Post Office for over 40 years and was very active in the California postal union association, serving for many years as its statewide Treasurer. He died of complications due to liver cancer in November 1990, but led a full life until the end. Henry was always proud of his service with the Flying Tigers and enjoyed attending reunions with his buddies in San Francisco.
Don Wai Lee - Army
Don Wai Lee was born in Toishan, Kwangtung, China and came to the United States as a 12-year-old student. He was the eldest son of Chinese immigrants, Ging Yuen Lee and Oh Ying Lee. In 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the European and Pacific theater as Tec 4 (Sergeant). On April 16, 1946, he was honorably discharged, but on April 17, 1946, he re-enlisted for another tour of duty serving as an Adjutant Generals Group resident Tec 5 (Corporal) and honorably discharged on April 1949. It was not until years later, did we come to understand the reason for his re-enlistment was to be able to maintain active military status with dual citizenship as US citizen and Chinese citizen. The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943 and allowed only 105 Chinese Immigrants per year into the USA. Don Wai Lee realized he had a small window of opportunity to find a wife in China and return to the USA before the Chinese Communist takeover in October 1949. In the summer of 1947 Don returned to China on assignment. In the summer of 1948, he returned from Canton, China with his wife Suey Jun and three-month-old baby son, to New York, New York, USA. Life blessed Don and Suey Jun with three more sons as he worked all his life as a restaurant waiter and laundry owner with Suey Jun. He raised his four sons to succeed in engineering and accounting with seven grandchildren. This was the American dream of one Chinese immigrant. Don Wai Lee had always been proud of his military service in the United States Army.
Jee Gay - Army Air Force
Jee Gay first arrived in the United States from China at the age of sixteen and enrolled in school to learn English. When he was nineteen, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force at Fort Sam Houston; San Antonio, TX. 6/18/43. Sent to Springfield, Illinois for basic training, he later joined the 407th Air Force Service Squadron when it was activated 7/10/43. The 407th Air Service Squadron was part of the all Chinese-American 14th Air Service Group who served the 14th Air Force, better known as the Flying Tigers under General Claire Chennault. In early 1944, his squadron of 250 men was sent to the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre of operations. Since the Japanese occupied the Pacific coast of China and the Allies occupied N. Africa, they took the Atlantic route. His squadron was part of a 125 ship convoy traveling under perilous conditions until they reached N. Africa safely. Later, they sailed to India through the Suez Canal, continuing their treacherous cattle train ride to Bombay, India onto Calcutta, India. They traveled by truck the dangerous 700 mile steep, narrow, and one-lane Burma Rd. with its many hairpin curves. Eventually, they reached Kunming, China eight months later. On 8/22/45, Jee and his squadron witnessed a historic moment – the Japanese surrender to China at Chihkiang Air Force Base.
Honorably discharged 8/12/46 at Camp Beale, CA, Jee Gay always felt that the Army gave him an opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures and customs. It transformed him from a young boy to a young man. Hardworking, humble, patriotic, and enthusiastic, Jee Gay served his country bravely and honorably.