Gilbert Ging Chan - Navy
Gilbert Ging Chan was born in San Francisco, California, to first-generation Chinese American parents. During the Great Depression, Gilbert’s family moved to Isleton, a small town in the heart of California’s Sacramento River Delta where his mother was born and raised. At the start of World War II, Gilbert’s older brother, Edward, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and became a Gunner & Radio Operator on a torpedo bomber. Two years later, when he was only 17 years old, Gilbert enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After basic training, he was assigned to the USS Benner DD 807, a Destroyer in the Pacific Theater. The two second-generation Chinese American brothers served till the end of WWII. When the war ended, Gilbert participated in San Diego’s Victory Parade. Honorably discharged, he moved to San Francisco, earned a college degree and began work as a Radio & Television Technician. Soon after, Gilbert married his childhood sweetheart, Angie, a third-generation Chinese American. They purchased a house in San Francisco where they raised four children, all of whom went to college. While working full time, Gilbert went to school in the evenings to earn a teaching credential. Once accomplished, he continued working the full time job during the day & taught at San Francisco City College in the evenings. A respected, amiable co-worker & dedicated, admired teacher, he worked at both jobs well past the average age of retirement. Gilbert enjoys visiting and exploring new places/countries. He is always readily available to help family members, friends, & the community. Mindful of his civic duty, Gilbert was a bilingual Census Worker in the 2010 Census and for many years volunteered as an election poll worker. In 2017, his beloved Angie passed away. Gilbert resides in the home they created together.
Ark C. Wong - Army
Ark C. Wong was born in Oong Sihng Leih, Toisan, Canton, China in 1923. Speaking no English, he immigrated in 1939 and arrived in Seattle on NY’s eve. He and his brother, Andy, then caught a train to San Francisco where his father met them and took them to a flat that they shared with 15 other men. He began his long, hard working career by helping his father deliver groceries from Quon Wo grocery store. He started night classes in English. Accelerating through elementary, middle and high school in a 4 year time frame, he received a draft notice in his senior year at Samuel Gomper’s. He was granted a deferment until August 1944. He remained on US soil throughout his tour as a machinist and was moved from Oklahoma to Ohio to New Jersey to Camp Kilmer. The Army had initially trained him to be a specialist in China. However, there was a shortage of ammunition and he was kept stateside to help produce ammunition. Ark (aka Jeff ) was honorably discharged on June 29, 1946. Jeff was determined to get a college education. Upon discharge, he applied and was accepted to UC Berkeley. However, probably due to PTSD, he couldn’t concentrate and dropped out and applied to CCSF. While getting his AA, he reapplied to UC and completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering June 1950. He married Evelyn S. Young on June 14, 1950. They proceeded to have 2 daughters, Elaine and Lori. He was hired by the San Francisco Naval Shipyard and had a long and exciting career. He was there to retrieve the astronauts when then splashed down in Hawaii on the USS Hornet and also on the Kitty Hawk. Evelyn passed away and he married Raynew and had a son, Jeffrey.
William Chan - Navy
William Chan was born in Toishan, Kwangtung, China and came to the United States as a young student. He was living in Chicago, Illinois when he decided to enlist in the US Navy in 1943 at the age of 19. His served his deployment on three vessels and stations including the US Naval Training School in Chicago, Illinois, Gunners Mate School Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the USS Mississippi (BB-41). He served as a gunner’s mate Third Class crewmember on the USS Mississippi (BB-41) until his honorable discharge in 1946. William (aka Bill) Chan saw battle when it fired its artillery at the enemy occupied Island of Luzon in January 1945. He also witnessed death when a Kamikaze aircraft struck his battle ship in the same campaign. Bill says he was the only Chinese American sailor onboard the ship with over 2000 other Caucasian members. He recalls never experiencing discrimination or harassment onboard, because people did not see him as a threat. Yet being small framed and 5 foot 6 inches tall, he was the selected crewmember to clean inside the 14-inch diameter long gun barrels on the three-gun turret. He was recognized by the captain of the ship as a valued seamen worthy of special tasks and privileges. Upon leaving the US Navy with an honorable discharge, he earned the Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Two Bronze Stars, Asiatic Pacific Seven Stars, and the American Area Medal. Bill returned to his home town Chicago, Illinois with a hero’s welcome. Bill pursued his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Illinois in Chicago. He became a successful engineering manager raising four children with his wife Helene Chan. In the 1980’s, he retired to enjoy life in southern California and continues to proudly speak on his US Navy experiences whenever people young and old asks him what WW2 was like. Bill’s story reflects a life of humility, perseverance, and faith in God, as he experienced danger in wartime while overcoming racial barriers as a Chinese American in a post war America.