Ying Hsing Wen graduated from West Point in 1909, becoming the first student from China to do so.
The South China Morning Post reports he was one of four foreign cadets admitted to West Point through a special act of U.S. Congress. Since Wen graduated with a classmate also from China, only six from Mainland China and six from Taiwan have graduated from there.
“He would get very excited, and he would put on his hat and his suit,” said Harriet Tung, Wen’s granddaughter now in her sixties. “We [would say] ‘oh, grandfather must have a West Point function because he’s all dressed up’.”
He returned to China and became an instructor at a military academy. He was tasked with modernizing China’s army. He was also part of the forces that overthrew China’s last dynasty, the Manchus.
“[He] learned the responsibilities of being a good officer for the men he commanded,” said Tung. “He performed his duty and he served his country. He loved his country and he must have had a lot of mixed feelings when he left China.”
Today there is a LTG Ying Hsing Wen Memorial Award for West Point cadets studying Chinese to travel to China. Tung established it in 2010 to promote cultural exchange and build a better relationship between China and the United States.
You can learn more about the award and the man its named after in the South China Morning Post.