Give It Up for Him – Chinese-American Denied WW2 Veteran Status

“Now an American citizen and a retired high school history teacher living in Aurora, Yee is one of the last men alive today to have served with Chennault and the original Flying Tigers.” John Yee’s story may be one of the most unusual American wartime stories you’ve ever heard. Originally from Kunming, China, Yee was a college student but joined the Chinese Air Force during the Japanese occupation of China in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. Due to luck and good timing, Yee eventually became a translator and flight-control specialist for Claire Lee Chennault and his legendary Flying Tigers. When the Tigers, or American Volunteer Group (AVG) as they were officially known, disbanded in July, 1942, Yee was a full member of the unit, and was awarded an official pin with the Flying Tigers’ Disney-designed logo. As WW2 progressed, Yee continued to serve as a translator, and provided stateside training to Chinese Air Force pilots. After the war, Yee feared his service to the U.S. would put his life at risk in communist-controlled China, and he applied for, and was granted, American citizenship in 1952. However, because some key documents confirming his service to the Flying Tigers have gone missing, Yee is unable to successfully apply for U.S. veteran’s status. This means he can’t collect veteran’s benefits, use VA healthcare services, or qualify for military honors upon his death. Yee, 89, has said publicly he isn’t that concerned about this situation. He and his surviving Flying Tigers compadres know what he did to serve his country. But it seems overall like just another raw deal an Asian-American is getting from a country for whom he put his life on the line. (Denver Post – Chinese-American Denied Vet Status)




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