The Chin Family's Greatest Generation

My grandfather CHIN Pak Yick, his first wife LEE Moon Yee, and my grandmother TSO Mee Shew raised what is arguably our family's greatest generation. This generation, the third generation of Chin's in the United States, all born in America, includes twelve of my mother's brothers and sisters who have over 190 years of combined U.S. Military and U.S. Government service. They served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam. They also served with distinction at many levels of the U.S. civil service. All U.S. military service was completed with honorable discharges, and U.S. government service with retirement after many years of service.

Like most people, the Chin brothers and sisters were a product of their times. They came of age when many young men and women heeded the call to serve their country and fight fascism and authoritarianism abroad. They also grew-up at a time of segregation and exclusion in the United States when the federal civil service provided one of the best (and often only) opportunities for hard-working, dedicated minorities to make a good middle-class life for themselves and their families.

The Chin Family in the U.S. Military

My mother's eldest brother, Bruce Chin (1919-1988) served in the US Army during the invasion of Europe in World War II. He served three years with tours in Paris and Germany while both were under the boot of the Nazis. He was later assigned to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Bruce, Paris, 1946
Cover and Page from "Paris Under the Boot of the Nazis"
(From Collection of William Chin)

[Note: Willam Chin compiled this record of service to the United States for his generation with the help of his brothers and sisters and their children.]

Edith Chin (1921-2004) served for three years as a nurse in the U.S. Army Hospital in San Francisco during World War II. She left the U.S. Army in 1945, and went to work as a nurse in the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco Chinatown. After 47 years of service, Edith retired at the age of 71 as the Head Nurse in 1992.

Edith's 1991 Commendation from Chinese Hospital's Board of Trustees
for 46 years of Loyal and Dedicated Service


Edward Chin (1926-2012) enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944. After basic and advanced training he was assigned to RCT (Regimental Combat Team) Bushmasters and went on convoy to attack the Japanese home islands in August 1945. Two days out of Hawaii with hundreds of ships enroute, Japan surrendered.

Ed was reassigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion whose duties were to monitor the Kempei Tai, the Japanese secret police unit equivalent to the Nazi Gestapo.

The Kempei Tai was headquartered about 15 miles outside of Tokyo. After capturing a few Kempei Tai agents, his MP Battalion was stationed in Tokyo. General MacArthur ordered that 2 MPs were to be placed in each brothel, but no to prevent GIs from going in, but to make sure that the GIs paid before leaving because the Japanese bouncers had injured too many GIs who tried to leave before paying for services rendered.

Edward was posthumously awarded this Congressional Gold Medal as part of the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project. Morris received the same award a few years earlier.

Edward's daughter Susan and son Steven
with Major General William Chen (US Army Retired)
Edward's son Steven accepting his father's medal
from Major General William Chen (US Army Retired) (left)
and Major General Darryl Wong (US Air Force Retired) (center)
on March 8, 2024 at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans

Morris, Nome, Alaska, 1946

Morris Chin (1927-2018) was a senior in high school when he made a decision to enlist into the US Marine Corp. The Recruiter told Morris they did not take Chinese enlistees. He then tried the US Navy, who also refused adding "we don't do Chinese laundry." Shortly thereafter, he was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 6, 1946. He completed basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga, then was stationed in Nome, Alaska. Their duties were to safeguard the Aleutian Islands and keeping the Russians from invading. There were more nights than daylight, and the temperatures was often -40 degrees F. He would later recalled that the weather was challenging and dealing with people and daily routines were very interesting and enlightening for a 19 year old teenager to learn. One time a USO plane arrived with a troupe of entertainers for the troops. But they didn't perform for the enlisted soldiers, just the officers.

Henry, USAF Master Sergeant

Henry Chin (1928- ) first enlisted in 1943. He was accepted, trained, and ready for combat when they discovered that he was underage and discharged him. He enlisted again in August 13, 1946. This time with the U.S. Air Force. He served in Japan until 1949, then joined the reserves and was activated for the Korean War. After being discharged into civilian life for a short while, he volunteered for active duty serving several tours. During the Vietnam War he was sent to Takhli Royal Air Force Base, Thailand. Henry wrote, "We flew F4 Phantoms and B-52s. In the one year tour, I had 9 missions on the B-52. We dropped bombs, and I was a gunner." He spent another year with a different unit in Utapao RTAFB, Thailand. There he flew 8 combat missions as a First Sergeant. In 1972, he returned to the States with his family and was stationed at Laughin AFB in Del Rio, Texas. Henry returned to Thailand in 1975 to help close down Udorn RTAFB and return it back to the Thai Air Force. On 18 December 1975, he was assigned to Hill AFB, Utah, then in 1982 was transferred to George AFB, California. Henry retired as a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant in June 1983 after serving for 36 years and 7 months.

Allen, USMC

Willam Chin (1931- ) joined the U.S. Marines in 1950. See below for additional U.S. Government Service.

Allen Chin (1940-2024) joined the U.S. Marines in 1960.

Fred Chin (1943-2022) enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in August 1965 and was honorably discharged in August 1969 with the M.O. NCOIC of Clinical Laboratory, Kusan AFB, Republic of Korea. Back in civilian life, Fred was a clinical laboratory scientist and instructor for Kaiser Permanente and later for Oakland's Children's Hospital, retiring in 2005 as a Laboratory Supervisor.

The Chin Family in the U.S. Government Civil Service

Elsie Chin (1922-2002) worked at the Oakland Naval Supply Center starting in the 1940s. She received commendations from the Base Commander, and retired after more than 40 years of service.

Elsie N. Chin
In Appreciation of Dedicated Service
Oakland, NSC

Mary Chin Bufton (1925- ) started work in the Oakland Post Office in the mid-1940's.  She received numerous promotions including Superintendent of Personnel in the early 1950’s. Mary later transferred to Walnut Creek and after other promotions became Postmaster at Alamo, CA. She retired after more than 40 years of service.

William in Oakland PD Uniform

William Chin (1931- ) After being discharged from the U.S. Marines, William worked for the US Postal Service then spent 6 years with the Oakland Police Department from 1957-1963. While working both swing and graveyard shifts, he attended the University of California at Berkeley to earn a Masters Degree. He later worked in the Department of Defense at the Alameda Naval Air Station with secret clearance to work on guided missiles. He retired with 20 years of U.S. Government Service. 

Dennis Chin (1941- ) retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 40 years of service.


Bradtastic said...

Hi, stumbled on this. Bruce is my grandfather. He died months before my birth, in 1986.

Kenneth Hong said...

@Bradtastic, I’m glad you found my family history blog. My mother is Bruce’s youngest sister.