By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Gene Moy is proud to tell you that he’s 102 years old (103 in April). Obviously, it’s a worthy accomplishment for the former World War II veteran.
Moy was one of six Chinese American WWII veterans honored during the two-minute warning of the first half of the Dec. 2 Monday Night Football game featuring the Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings.
The veterans will receive the Congressional Gold Medal and will be honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2020.
On Dec. 20, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the Chinese American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, which awarded approximately 20,000 Chinese American veterans of WWII. The Act orders the creation of medals to recognize the Chinese Americans who volunteered or were drafted when the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in place. The Chinese Exclusion Act precluded Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States. It was the first of its kind of laws which prevented a specific ethnic or national group from becoming American citizens.
The effort to get Chinese American veterans the Congressional Gold Medal was backed by a national campaign spearheaded by the Chinese American WWII Recognition Project.
The Seahawks, as part of honoring veterans, put aside a part of its in-game promotions to ensure that its fans do not forget the sacrifices made by veterans of the military.
“It’s an honor to have them here and it’s a great education for the fans,” said Seahawks representative Mike Flood to the family and friends gathered in a Seahawks suite prior to the game. Flood gifted the honorees with a ceremonial coin from the Seahawks.
Despite his age, Moy can still drive. And he still loves dancing and named the cha-cha, tango, and waltz as some of his favorites. “He loves to dance,” said his son Cory Moy.
“I eat lots of rice,” Moy jokingly said of his secret to living over a century. Born in Taishan, China, in 1917, Moy arrived in the United States with his father in 1931. He lived in Lewiston, Idaho, moving to Seattle. He was drafted at the age of 18. Moy was a mess sergeant in the Army.
“I was a cook before I went in. When they found out, they put me in the kitchen right away.” Moy was in charge of feeding 200 to 300 people a day.
“I knew he was in the military, but I didn’t know how long,” said his son. “He told me of areas he went to.” Moy told his son about trips to New Caledonia, Japan, and the Philippines. “As far as I can remember, he was always the cook of the house.”
Moy ran a number of restaurants with business partners. One of his partners was James Locke, the father of former governor of the state of Washington, Gary Locke.
“As he’s getting older, I try to ask him how to make dishes, I’ve been trying to get them.” Cory noted that as a cook, his father cooked based on “throwing things in,” with ‘dashes’ and ‘pinches’ rather than precise measurements.
Cory videotaped his father showing his son how to make a special salad dressing as a way to preserve the recipe and ‘keep it in the family.’ He also made a special chow mein dish that his son also wants to videotape.
Lip Mar will be 93 on New Year’s Day 2020. He laughed when asked about the key to his longevity.
“I drink,” Mar joked. Mar was drafted upon his 18th birthday and was given a choice to join any military branch—he chose the Navy. He was assigned as a Hospital Corpsman at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif. where he treated American military personnel engaged in the Pacific theater. The war ended prior to Mar being shipped overseas. After he was honorably discharged, he opened up a restaurant in Edmonds, which he managed for 30 years. He then sold the business and went on to work for Boeing. Mar stated that he was a Seahawks season ticket holder when the franchise first started.
Also honored was William “Bill” L. Chin of Seattle. The 94-year-old grew up in the Chinatown area as a youth and graduated from Broadway High School in 1943. He was drafted the same year and served in the Army with the 93rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron in the European Theatre. Chin participated in the Central European Campaign and in the Battle of Rhineland. He achieved the rank of radio operator, Tec 5. Bill was awarded the American and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medals and the Good Conduct Medal.
Thomas Lew, 96, served in the Army from April 1943 to February 1946 as an expert sharp shooter in the amphibious tank unit. Lew served his foreign service in Luzon, Philippines, and achieved the rank of Sergeant. After the war, he received his degree in mechanical engineering and worked for Boeing until his retirement.
Cal Fung, 95, was 18 years old when he entered the Army in April 1943. He served as a Staff Sergeant and General Clerk, serving with the 176th Ordnance Depot Company in the European Theatre of Operations. He supervised the work of six general clerks in the receiving and distribution of requisitions for automotive parts and for various maintenance companies. He served in five battles and campaigns during his service, including Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged in December 1945.
Dr. William Chin was also 18 years old when he entered the Army in August 1943. Prior to that, he graduated from Seattle’s Garfield High School. When a base officer asked for overseas duty volunteers in March 1944, Pfc. Chin stepped forward. His division battled on the beaches of Normandy on the 4th of July, 1944. Chin battled his way through Northern France, the Rhineland, and into the fierce fighting of the Hurtgen Forest region, where, while on patrol with his platoon, was captured by the Germans on Nov. 30, 1944. After receiving a field promotion to Corporal, Chin was back in the United States on June 12, 1945. He was honorably discharged Nov. 30, 1945. William’s awards and medals include the Combat Infantryman Badge, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. William went on to attend the University of Washington, graduating from the School of Dentistry, practicing for 35 years in the Seattle area. William and wife Dorothy have four children, and recently celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary.
As the veterans were ushered down to the field from their suite, the anticipation of being in front of a sellout crowd made it a very exciting moment. Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback and current XFL head coach of the Seattle Dragons Jim Zorn was in the tunnel entrance leading out to the field and made an effort to speak to each of the veterans prior to going out on the field.
Zorn had an extensive conversation with Mar. One could only imagine what Mar, the former season ticket holder, had to say about meeting the former quarterback in person.
The veterans were presented in the north end zone of CenturyLink Field, flanked by current military, as they received the adoration and applause of the crowd. The family and friends that accompanied them down to the field took pictures and videos with their cell phones to commemorate the moment. After the presentation, they were greeted by Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins and Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best. Prior to heading back to their suite to watch the rest of the game, Seattle Seahawks long snapper Tyler Ott, who was coming back on the field to warm up early before the second half start, stopped to thank the veterans for their service.
Terry Nicolas, the Commander of the Veterans of Foreign War post in which they are members, stated that the night meant everything, “especially for these guys to be finally honored.”
“As an individual, they may not have done anything, but as a group, they managed to save the world.”
Nicolas, a Vietnam veteran in the Marine Corps, added, “I truly believe that and if it not for these guys that were willing to get up and go [to war], we’d be living a different life.”
Seattle Senior Deputy Mayor Mike Fong said, “As a Chinese American, their service and sacrifice for our country fills me with pride. I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet each of them in person.”
“I think it’s just great that people are recognizing their efforts from 1944,” said Don Mar, Lip Mar’s nephew. “I think it’s wonderful. He’s really excited to be here and that’s the most important thing.”
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.