Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee is the first Chinese-American officer in the history of the United States Marine Corps. Honored for his heroic performance during the Korean War, Lee is a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest honor a marine can receive for valor.
Born and raised in northern California, Lee is the first-born son of Chinese immigrants. As a first-generation American, Lee says he and his siblings “grew up in an American way, but kept Chinese customs.” As a high school student, Lee witnessed the events of World War II and-determined to become an honored American soldier-joined the Junior ROTC. During a time when very few minorities were in command, Private Lee rose through the ranks to become a First Lieutenant. Blowing past cultural barriers, he became Commanding Officer of a Machine-Gun Platoon of Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division. His opportunity to earn the respect of his troops and prove his solidarity as an American citizen would soon arise on the rugged mountain ranges of northeast Korea.
Outnumbered by Communist Chinese forces and facing temperatures 20 degrees below zero, Lee boldly exposed himself to enemy fire as he braved the enemy-held slope. His audacious one-man attack forced the Chinese to fire and reveal their battle stations, which gave his platoon the opportunity to capture the base. Despite injuries sustained on the battlefield, Lee went on to lead 500 marines on a grueling night mission to save their fellow soldiers, the Fox Company, at the battle of Chosin Reservoir. In a mission unprecedented in Marine Corps history, Lee’s company fought for every inch of ground and safely evacuated Fox Company to the Port City of Hungnam. As the first officer of Asian descent to be commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, Lee is not only a pioneer but also a shining example of resolve and courage.
We honor you, Kurt Lee.
As a 25-year-old Navy pilot, Mr. Gay flew a Douglas Devastator torpedo plane in an attack on Japanese warships near Midway Island on June 4, 1942.
All the planes in his squadron were shot down, and he was the only one of 30 men in Torpedo Squadron 8 to survive. Historians have credited the attack by his squadron as clearing the way for an attack by American dive bombers that eventually resulted in victory in the battle.
Wounded and wearing a life jacket, Mr. Gay watched the American dive bombers hurtle out of the clouds to attack Japanese aircraft carriers and found himself “cheering and hollering with every hit.”
After he was rescued by American forces, Mr. Gay made personal appearances for the Navy, spreading the news of the victory at Midway. That victory — achieved by an American fleet with only three heavy carriers against four heavy Japanese carriers and three light ones — was a turning point in the war in that theater.
Mr. Gay was a Trans World Airlines pilot for 30 years after the war. He also spoke to civic groups around the country, telling of his Midway experiences and calling for greater military preparedness.
In 1975, he was a consultant for the movie “Midway.” Kevin Dobson played his part. Mr. Gay toured the country with the film’s stars, Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda, to promote the film.
We honor you, George Gay.
He was born on November 27, 1915 in Panama City, Panama. He married Phyllis of Boise, Idaho and had 5 children. He studied journalism at Stanford University and graduated in January 1941.
He completed his pilot training at Stockton Army Air Field, California on October 30, 1941, and was assigned to the 70th Pursuit Squadron, 35th Pursuit Group at Hamilton Field in Novato, California. Until December 1942 he served in Fiji then his squadron was moved to Guadalcanal and he joined the 347th Fighter Group. He scored his first aerial victory on Christmas Eve in 1942 when he shot down an A6M Zero. Lanphier was promoted to captain in March 1943. The next month he destroyed three A6M Zeros over Cape Esperance on April 7, 1943. By the end of his tour, he flew 97 combat missions out of Guadalcanal in P-39s and P-38s.
Following World War II, he was one of the founding members of the Idaho Air National Guard, eventually retiring as a Colonel.
During World War II, Colonel Lanphier was credited with downing nine Japanese planes, damaging eight on the ground, and sinking a destroyer. He received the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross.
We honor you, Thomas Lanphier Jr.
(#Repost @Fandom: Military)
Rear Admiral Burton H. Shepherd, who during his military career, as a commander, was strike leader of Attack Carrier Air Wing 16.
Oct. 26, 1967, 18 aircrafts set out on a mission to destroy a heavily defended thermal power plant in Hanoi. For this and other acts of bravery during this mission, Shepherd received the Navy Cross.
That citation was read at Monday’s Glenmoor salute by Shepherd’s son, Michael, a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach. In part, it states: “After proceeding expeditiously to the coast to refuel, Commander Shepherd returned to an area south of the target to search for one of his missing strike pilots. Continuing the search for over an hour over enemy terrain in the face of the most concentrated enemy fire in North Vietnam, he finally returned to the coast after reaching a low fuel state.”
The missing pilot who had been shot down was John McCain, now a U.S. senator.
We honor you, Burton Shepherd.
(#Repost @The St. Augustine Record)
Maurice Jester enlisted in the Coast Guard as a Surfman in 1917, working his way up to Chief Boatswain’s Mate by 1935 while serving on five cutters. Commissioned as a Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he was the first Coast Guardsman to earn the Navy Cross in World War II, and the first Coast Guard Officer to receive the award for a combat action in direct confrontation with enemy forces.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Maurice David Jester, United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. ICARUS (WPC-110) during a successful action on 9 May 1942, with an enemy German submarine. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Jester throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
We honor you, Maurice Jester.
(#Repost @Hall of Valor)