Back then it was not easy for a Chinese or Asian decent to get a citizenship and the options were few. One option was to join the Merchant Marines and serve for 5 years. So he did. After those 5 years he was denied citizenship and was threatened with deportation.
Then the Korean War rolled around and he joined the US Army because that was another way to earn US citizenship. When the war was over he was honorably discharged and yet again denied citizenship. Screwed up right? He didn't slouch through the Korean war. He was a gunner in a tank battalion. He was even a tank commander for a day.
Finally as a last resort he sought help from a politician who realized Paul Loong deserves to be a citizen of the United States. But his extraordinary life story did not end there. He went to Italy and studied to be a doctor among younger med students. He even learned to speak Italian. When he earned his degree he came back and worked at a hospital for Veterans.
|Asian-American Vets at Kim Lau Square|
In NYC Chinatown every year during Memorial Day there is a small gathering of Chinese Veterans who saw active duty in the US merchant marines and US military service. Most served to earn the right to be a US citizen.
And each of them have their own stories of personal struggles in the US.
And every year I pay a visit at the Kim Lau Square, named after another brave Chinese-American who served in the US Air Force as a bomber and died.
It's a small ceremony where you can go honor Veterans of Asian decent. Sadly, every year I can see that the numbers of older Veterans is dwindling. And I'm sure most have similar stories like Paul Loong.
While I honor all serve in the military, having met with and knowing a handful of Asian-American WWII through Vietnam Vets really hits home.
|A well deserved memorial for all Asian-American Vets|