Kam Chong - Army
The life of Kam Chong is a true immigrant success story. After a childhood of poverty, limited educational opportunity and literally living in the streets of Hong Kong, Kam overcame many life struggles to become a Chinese American Veteran of World War II, a restaurateur and a respected community leader in the City of New York.
While serving in the 264th Infantry Regiment of the US Army for three years, Kam was an infantryman in Northern France for approximately a year and a half. As a result of his brave service, Kam was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. On September 12, 1945, Kam was granted American citizenship in Marseille, France as a result of the Second War Powers Act of 1942. Mr. Chong was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019 and was nominated for a Bronze Star.
Kam married Sue Tsang and resided in Brooklyn and Queens, New York where they raised four children, all of whom graduated from college. Because of his culinary and organizational skills, Kam was an admired chef and restaurateur. For several decades as President, Treasurer and a member of the Tai Look Merchants Association, Mr. Chong greatly helped numerous members of the Chinese community. He volunteered as an advisor and translator in many business, immigration and social matters.
Kam passed away on November 25, 1994 and is survived by his wife, four children, three grandchildren and a great grandchild. He is remembered as an American hero who inspired everyone with his hard work, resourcefulness and determination, his courageous service to his country and for his compassionate and unwavering efforts to improve the lives of his fellow citizens.
Albert Paul Fong - Army
Albert Paul Fong was the third son of Fong Chow and Lonnie Tom. Fong was ambitious and inspired. He dedicated himself to the youth of the community. In preparation for this work he attended Springfield College at Springfield, Massachusetts. With America's entry into World War II, his plans, like those of a great many others, were interrupted. Fong entered the army and was selected as a candidate for Officer's Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He successfully concluded the course and was awarded the commission of the second lieutenant in the United States Army. Fong was deployed on Attu to halt the progress of the Japanese in Alaska. He died on May 25, 1943 during a Japanese air raid. Fong was posthumous awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his extraordinary heroism.
Tak Ping Huen - Navy
Tak Ping Huen was born in 1910. At the age of 20, he married Lai Keen Tong and a year later as a Chinese national, he joined the US Navy in Hong Kong in 1932 as a mess attendant. The Navy had a shortage of mess attendants to serve the officers aboard ship as white sailors did not want to be mess attendants. Starting in1925 the Navy allowed Chinese and Filipino nationals to be mess attendants and serve in Asia, not the continental US. Tak’s first ship was on the USS Mindanao, a gunboat, and subsequently on USS Augusta, a cruiser, USS Isabel, gunboat, and USS Houston, a cruiser, all in the US Navy Asiatic Fleet.
When WWII began, Tak was in the Navy and was separated from his wife and four children, 3 sons and 1 daughter, for the entire four war years. He was in the Philippines and Australia, and served on USS Estes, USS Rocky Mount, and USS Eldorado, command ships fighting in the Pacific theater. When the war ended, Tak found his family living in Macao in late 1945.
Tak received his US citizenship in November 1945 on a warship in Shanghai, and then made Chief Petty Officer as a Steward in November 1946, the highest enlisted rank. After the war and while on active duty, Tak and his family immigrate to America and bought their first home in Berkeley. In 1953, Tak was assigned to the USS General J. C. Breckinridge AP 176, which was deployed to fight in the Korean War. Tak retired in 1954 with 22 years as Chief Petty Officer Steward.
Tak was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Area Service ribbon, Philippine Libration Ribbon with one Bronze star, WWII Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, and United Nations Service Medal.
After his Navy service, Tak was a butcher and cook at several restaurants. But after about 2 years, he missed the Navy and returned to the Navy as a civilian cook at the Chief Petty Officers Club, retiring age 65 in 1975. His wife Lai Keen Tong was a seamstress in the Chinese garment factory. Their five children all completed college, with four earning advanced degrees, two at the masters level, one PhD in Electrical Engineering, and one medical doctor. Tak and Lai Keen had eleven grandchildren and they all completed college. Tak had about 5 years of schooling and he finally got his GED in his 40’s.