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Remembering my dad on Memorial Day

Leonard Yip

By Randall Yip

For a professional journalist, I did a horrible job talking to my dad, Leonard, about his family history. I vaguely remember him telling me he joined the Army in WWII and was assigned to the Signal Corp. Beyond that, I knew nothing and I never really asked him about it.

When the Chinese American Citizen League launched its drive to win recognition for Chinese Americans who fought for the US in WWII despite facing segregation, discrimination and bigotry, I watched with interest.

As Congress moved closer to passing a bill awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to these veterans, Samantha Cheng, the project director, and Shirley Lew, a project volunteer and writer for AsAmNews, encouraged me to register my dad as a WWII veteran with the project. My dad had died years ago and the memory of his last surviving sibling had pretty much faded. I told them I didn’t have much information, but they told me to register him anyway.

I did, and suspected, what I knew wasn’t enough. I barely answered a third of the questions on the registration form and left the rest blank. Successfully registering my dad would mean he would qualify to get a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors in the country. When Congress finally passed the Congressional Gold Medal Act for Chinese American WWII Veterans in December, I assumed my application for my late dad would be rejected.

I was right. I received an email urging me to get more information. They told me even pictures of my dad from WWII would help. That triggered my memory. I vaguely recalled finding a cigar box with photos of my dad from that era. I rummaged through my dad’s bedroom and located the cigar box. Inside the box were not only photos, but a tattered war bond that my grandma bought her son.

That war bond identified by father as part of the TC5 26th Signal Center Team, CP Crowder, MO.

Leonard Yip with the TC5 26th Signal Center Team, CP Crowder, MO.
Leonard Yip with the TC5 26th Signal Center Team, CP Crowder, MO.

From the photos, I surmised my father was part of a segregated unit comprised of Chinese American soldiers overseen by White officers.

From what I found on Wikipedia, I learned Camp Crowder was one of four training facilities in the US for the Signal Corp. They were responsible for maintaining the communication system for Amy Ground Forces and Army Air Forces. I thought my dad had told me as a member of the Signal Corp that he signaled enemy locations to those on the battleground, but none of the research I have done has confirmed that.

I submitted the photos along with a copy of the War Bond identifying my dad with the TC5 26th Signal Center Team at Camp Crowder. That was enough. I received notification that my dad was officially registered as a veteran of WWII. I plan to purchase a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal once it is produced. The original medal will be place in the Smithsonian Museum-I assume the American History Museum. I hope to pass on the medal to my children who will hopefully carry their family history with them.

You too can register your parent or grandparent for this honor as well. Don’t assume you will be rejected. As I found out, you can find out anything if you dig enough. You can register here.

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