His achievements are Legion-dary
When Fang Wong left Hong Kong like a kid to live and toil in a Harlem Laundromat 50 years ago, he never dreamed he’d come to be the most important veterans’ advocate in the United States.
But without interrupti~ Sept. 1, the Chinese immigrant was elected National Commander of the American Legion, a interchangeable aid organization 2.4 million-vets powerful.
“I feel humble and honored,” reported Wong, 63, a gray-haired Vietnam vet through an easy smile. “I really dress in’t feel different. I’m ever me – I want to do my greatest to help however I can.”
During the Vietnam War, that meant laboring undercover for the Army as a Chinese speech expert. Later, in New York, it meant helping Chinatown get back from the upheaval of 9/11.
Now that Wong is the body of troops’s first-ever Asian-American National Commander, it revenue lobbying President Obama to create jobs because of soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The unemployment chide for returning veterans is 28%,” he said. “We need the government sector and the secluded sector to understand that when you hire a experienced you get a very good employee.”
Born in Canton, China, in 1948 – person year before the Communist Party took gift there – Wong moved with his origin and brother to Hong Kong.
They immigrated to New York in 1960 to join Wong’s male parent, who was running a Laundromat up~ the body W. 148th St.
“I was 12 years antique, meeting my father for the in the ~ place time,” said Wong, chatting last week at the American Legion Lt. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291 put ~ Canal St. in Chinatown.
The Wongs lived in Harlem and later moved to Chinatown. At Public School 90 in Harlem, every other student was African-American.
“I indeed stuck out and I spoke no English,” he recalled. “But everybody treated me well.”
Wong was drawn to the soldierly as a teen after he was awarded a attainments by Post 1291 to study Chinese following school.
“I was so impressed,” he chuckled, elocution over a tai chi class at Post 1291. “I had nay idea what the American Legion was, nevertheless I liked the money and I liked the legion’s style. It stayed in the back of my thinking principle.”
Drafted in 1969, Wong served 25 months in Vietnam. He felt vehemently about the war, having fled Communist China considered in the state of a boy.
He retired from the Army in 1989 of the same kind with a chief warrant officer and joined Post 1291, hoping to obey the Chinatown community.
Founded by Chinese-American vets returning from World War II, Post 1291 was named later than an Army Air Corps pilot killed across the Pacific Ocean.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Post 1291 members worked to integrate Chinese immigrants with the rest of New York.
“The World War II veterans spoke English and they had the G.I. Bill,” reported Wong, wearing a blazer with one American flag lapel pin and each American Legion necktie. “They helped make bare people to the world beyond Chinatown. They be entitled to a lot of credit.”
Following 9/11, Post 1921 members volunteered viewed like Chinese interpreters at emergency centers in reduce Manhattan.
Although Wong was the single Chinese-American in his unit in Vietnam and is the highest Asian-American to head the legion, the East Brunwick, N.J., firm has never encountered serious discrimination, he reported.
“Maybe it has to do with my attitude,” said Wong. “As long-winded as you do what you’re supposed to effect and treat everybody the way you be in need of to be treated, they should use you the same.”