Former Private 1st Class Randall Ching, of the famed 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion that landed on Omaha Beach during the Battle of Normandy, is set to be awarded his second Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.
Ching, 97, is believed to be the only person of Chinese descent among the nearly 7,000 rangers who fought in World War II.
Ching’s battalion was among the units pinned down by heavy machine gun and mortar fire on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
Responding to General Norman Cota’s now-famous order, “Rangers, lead the way!” the battalion advanced through intense enemy fire to reach the German guns flanking the Allied forces at the landing area. The effort allowed an opening for supporting troops to land and expand the beachhead.
Born to Chinese parents in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1924, Ching and his family moved back to China during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He returned to the U.S. in 1941 and joined the Army in 1943 before later volunteering for the Rangers.
When the war ended, Ching took a stock clerk manager job while attending night school in San Francisco. He eventually became a maintenance manager until his retirement.
Known for his knife-fighting ability and marksmanship, the veteran served with the 5th Ranger Battalion from his deployment at Omaha Beach until the end of the war in Oct. 1945.
Ching, who was awarded his first Congressional Gold Medal in Dec. 2020, also earned two Bronze Star medals, a Combat Infantry Badge, two Army Presidential Unit Citations, the French Croix de Guerre with Silver-Gilt Star and the French Legion of Honor, Chevalier.
The citation for Ching’s second Bronze Star with combat “V” device highlighted his actions on Sept. 2, 1944, in France: “As a member of a reconnaissance patrol, Private First Class Ching assured the success of its mission by knifing all the occupants of a fortified position.”
Ching will receive his second medal via a bill awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the Army Rangers of World War II. The Senate approved the bill last October while the House passed it on May 11 with a vote of 418-0. The legislation is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature.
Ching is set to join a very short list of individuals who have received two Congressional Gold Medals: Gen. Winfield Scott, Gen. and President Zachary Taylor, polar explorer Lincoln Ellsworth and Adm. Hyman G. Rickover.