Chinese American congressional gold medal awardee Fred Cheong Lee dies at 96

Fred Cheong Lee passes away at 96

A Chinese American WWII army veteran, who received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019, recently passed away after succumbing to prostate cancer at the age of 96. 

Standing tall: Fred Cheong Lee gave his service for the United States Army at a time when Chinese Americans were still being heavily discriminated against in the U.S., reported Stripes.

  • According to his obituary published on Oregon Live, during WWII, Lee was assigned to the 680th Technical Services Typographic Company under General George S. Patton.
  • His task was to draw maps that “detailed battle lines and determined the plan of action each morning.”
  • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was still in effect in the 1940s, and the people of Chinese descent, at the time, were widely viewed as “unfit to be citizens.”
  • His services, during such a challenging period, were recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Deserving of the highest honor: In 2019, Lee arrived at a surprise party for his 95th birthday when he learned he was an awardee of the Congressional Gold Medal as part of the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project, reported KPTV.

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  • Created by an act of Congress, the project was meant to honor Chinese American veterans that participated in World War II.
  • The recognition was deemed as the “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”
  • The Oregon Military Department released a statement to honor Lee and his accomplishments.
  • “Lee volunteered for service on his 18th birthday, leaving behind his college education at OSU,” the statement read. “He was attached to the 680th Technical Services Typographic Company, a group of 120 soldiers responsible for creating and disseminating daily updated battlefield maps for George S. Patton in the European theater.”

Born in Portland’s Chinatown in 1924 to Chinese immigrants, Lee was named after the doctor who delivered him to give him an English name. Lee was preceded by his wife Gladys; daughter, Laura; and son, Phillip and is survived by his other daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Featured Image via KPTV

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