98-Year-Old Asian American WWII Veteran Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

wwii veteran

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to report that the Congressional Gold Medal has yet to be given to Joe Chew at an official ceremony, but Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost acknowledged the award at a meeting.

Joe Chew, a 98-year-old veteran from Sacramento, California, was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in World War II.


The award: While the Congressional Gold Medal has not physically been given to Chew, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost honored the veteran and thanked him for his service at a recent meeting, according to CBS13.

  • The Congressional Gold Medal award follows the efforts of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) and the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project, which aims to “to recognize, honor and celebrate the military service of Chinese Americans who fought in the Second World War through advocacy, education and preservation.”
  • CACA — which has fought against racial discrimination, opposed anti-immigration movements and “countered efforts to marginalize American Chinese culture and heritage” — first introduced The Congressional Gold Medal Bill in May 2017 that proposed honoring Chinese Americans who served in WWII, AsAm News reported.
  • The Chinese American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act was sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth. The Senate passed the bipartisan bill on September 12, 2018.
  • “Chinese American men and women served in every theater of WWII and sacrificed their lives defending American values of freedom,” the bill reads. “Their acts of patriotism, loyalty and courage occurred at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and its discrimination impacts were in place.”
  • The official presentation is set to be held by Congress in Washington D.C. at a later date.

A brief history: The veteran was born in Red Bluff in 1921 to a Chinese immigrant father, who moved to the United States to escape persecution.

  • Chew, who turns 99 on December 25, was drafted into the 1908th Army Service Unit, Camp Beale in 1945.
  • “In Red Bluff, where I was born and raised, there’s five Chinese families, and most of the boys went into the service at that time,” he said.
  • Chew helped run his family’s restaurant after getting his Bachelor’s Degree from Chico State following the war.
  • He also worked as a tax accountant until his retirement.

Feature Image via CBS Sacramento

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