Hawai‘i Chinese WWII Veterans to Receive Congressional Gold Medal

December 14, 2019, 3:22 PM HST (Updated December 14, 2019, 1:56 PM)
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Photo: Eric Won.

Families of Chinese-American World War II veterans from Hawai‘i are urged to register to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor for war-time service between Dec. 7, 1941, through Dec. 31, 1946.

Congress voted last year to award Chinese-Americans who served during World War II with the medal and President Trump signed the bill into law.

“Many of the Chinese who fought in World War II from Hawai‘i were also Native Hawaiian, so for us here in Hawai‘i this is as much a recognition of Native Hawaiian warriors as it is for Chinese heroes,” said retired Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, co-chairman of the Chinese American World War II Recognition Project–Hawai‘i.

Despite discrimination and the Chinese Exclusion Act—which prevented many Chinese from becoming American citizens—more than 20,000 Chinese-Americans signed up to fight for the U.S. Hawai‘i had the third-largest population (29,000) behind California and New York, and the highest percentage of individuals who enlisted.

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Chinese World War II veterans served in all military branches and services. The veterans include both women and men who served in the Army, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.

To register, families must gather required paperwork to confirm a family member’s service. Families are urged to complete this process ahead of the deadline.

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Lee speaks at a news conference with World War II veterans Franklin Wai, Walter Ching and Norman Won. Photo: AARP Hawai‘i.

Information about the medal, how to register, veteran stories and donations are available at www.CAWW2hawaii.org.

So far, roughly 160 veterans have completed registrations including 29 survivors from Hawai‘i.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce is planning a ceremony and banquet to honor Hawai‘i Chinese-American veterans. The ceremony will like take place later in the spring.

AARP Hawai‘i is one of the first contributors to the effort, having also contributed to the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for Filipino World War II veterans.

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