Hundreds gathered in Chinatown on Saturday to celebrate Chinese-American veterans of World War II.
The program included the presentation of six Bronze Star medals for valor in combat to former soldiers now in their 90s, along with dozens of Congressional Gold Medals.
The medals were presented by three Chinese-American generals: Retired Major Gen. William S. Chen, the first Chinese-American to earn the rank of two-star general, retired Major Gen. Darryll D.M. Wong and Major Gen. Garrett S. Yee.
The Bronze Star was awarded to Harry Chin, Ying Chin, Ng Y Jung, Sidney J. Tom, Wing Wong and Koon Y. Yee.
The retired generals donated their time for the ceremony, which was paid for and organized by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.
Paul Cheng, 73, a Vietnam veteran and retired hospital administrator, accepted the service medals on behalf of his father, Paul Cheng Sr., who served in the Navy during World War II, and two grandfathers, Kong Chu, a Marine and James Cheng, who served in the Army.
“It took a long time,” Cheng said. “For our family this is a total honor”
About 20,000 Chinese-Americans veterans fought in the war, including many who were not citizens.
Congress formally recognized Chinese American veterans for their World War II service in December 2018, and a nominating process for the Congressional Gold Medal was set up after that. The pandemic delayed the presentations, which have been held across the country in recent months.
Saturday’s crowd included many who carried photos of their relatives who served. The elderly Bronze Star awardees were unable to attend because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city.