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.
Leo Soo Hoo - Army Air Force
Born in Detroit in 1922, Leo joined the Army Air Corps in early 1943. He rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant after training near Miami (basic); High Point, NC; Nashville, TN; Helena, AR and Spence Field in Moultrie, GA. By September 1944, Leo was assigned to the 10th Air Force, 312th Fighter Wing, 311th Fighter Group, 530th Fighter Squadron. Serving as a pilot in P-51A Mustangs, the 530th “Yellow Scorpions” became a highly decorated unit flying cargo-transport escort / support and ground attack missions in India. They were transferred to the 14th Air Force, performing similar duties in Burma and China. Leo was hospitalized twice for malaria in theater. At the same time, his brother, Henry, was serving as a navigator on a B-29 out of Saipan; sister, Marjorie, was enrolled in medical school at Wayne University in Detroit.
Declining a post-war promotion and assignment to train fighter pilots, Leo moved to Chicago after receiving a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan. In 1949, he married Mae Lynn Jung of Philadelphia. They raised a son and three daughters while Leo worked at, and ultimately retired from, Illinois Tool Works. Passing away in 1998, Leo and Henry, along with other members of Amvets Post 85 (Chinese Americans), received the Distinguished Service Award from the City of Detroit in 2000.