Fred Chu Ko - Army
Fred Ko was born June 9, 1923 in Sue Kai, China and immigrated to the United States as a young child. He was inducted into the United States military on June 19, 1943 and his Honorable Discharge letter was signed January 7, 1946. Fred’s military occupational specialty was a parachute rigger and repairman in the United States Army as a Sergeant. He was in the China, Burma, and India (CBI) Theater during World War II in the 407 Air Service Squadron that was associated with the famous Flying Tigers. His home town was Earle, Arkansas. Decorations included World War II Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, AP Theater Ribbon, and one Bronze Service Star. The White House sent an appreciation letter signed by President Harry S. Truman for his service. After the war, Fred went back to China and married Fung Hang Kwai and they raised 3 children in Earle, Arkansas. Not only did he own and manage a small market, but Fred was an excellent chef. He was taught by his chef father and was often asked to make Chinese specialty dishes for the community. He was president for several years for the Lung Kong Tin Yee Association in Memphis, Tennessee. Lung Kong Tin Yee Association was named after a home town temple in China (Dragon Mountain) and functioned as a community center and gathering place for Chinese living in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Fred (Chu) Ko passed away on March 1988. He is survived by his wife, 3 children and their spouses, 5 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Fred was determined that his children would have the best educational opportunities that he did not have. He would be proud of his legacy today; his family consists of physicians, pharmacists, accountant, engineer, banker, dentist and computer specialist.
Fong Pun Ning - Army
Fong Pun Ning also went by the name, George. He immigrated into the United States at the age of 19 in 1938. He grew up in a village in Quangdong Province, China. He often spoke of the time when Japanese planes flew overhead while he was on the roof of the family home. The planes were firing large caliber bullets, many of which landed mere feet from where he stood. This frightening experience prompted his mother to send him to his father, who was already in the United States in the Boston area. George was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1943. He spent time in Camp Forrest, Tennessee and Fort Leonardwood, Missouri. Along with dozens of other Chinese American servicemen, he completed a 16 (or 26?) week course in Mandarin Chinese at the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota in 1945. It was during this time, George began what would turn out to be a life-long friendship with Herbert Offen, a Jewish-American from the Boston area. Herbert was the only non-Chinese student at the language school. George utilized his training during his overseas deployment in Shanghai after VJ day, during November 1945 through February 1946, to work on post-war activities. George received an honorable discharge on April 15, 1946, as well as an honorable discharge from the Enlisted Reserve Corps, as a Corporal on April 14, 1949. George was an active member of the American Legion Boston Chinatown Post 328. He served as the Post Commander in 1972. Throughout his service, George wrote over 500 letters to the love of his life, Mary Wong. They married in April 1948 and remained married until his passing in February 2013.
Richard Y. T. Char - Army
Richard Y.T. Char was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended Farrington High School up to the tenth grade. Then after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, all the schools were closed for two months. In his own words, “I made a big mistake when I didn’t return to school when the schools reopened. I continued working…” But he did the next best thing and enrolled in vocational school in the machinist program and “worked for the Army Engineering Department as a machinist til I was drafted into the Army when I was 18 years old. The same day the war ended. I decided to volunteer for three years in the Signal Corps and serve my time in China…” Serving with the American occupation forces in China between January 1946 and February 1947, and witnessing firsthand the conflict between the Kuomintang - Nationalist Party of China (KMT-NPC) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) was an interesting and exciting time for him. It helped shape his love and interest in Chinese culture and history. After he was discharged from the Army, he returned to Hawaii where he married and started a family. He began a long 34-year career at Kodak Hawaii starting first as a maintenance worker and then working his way up and earning the title of Senior Engineer - all this in spite of his lack of a formal education. He eventually was promoted to Production Supervisor, “the number two man in the Honolulu lab…” After retirement, he and his wife Betty travelled extensively and especially enjoyed their trips back to China. He was an active member of many Chinese societies in Hawaii including the See Dai Doo Society. He passed away in 2013 and is buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific.