Veteran services

South Florida WWII veteran receives Congressional Gold Medal

More than 75 years after his service in World War II, a 98-year-old Chinese-American veteran in Deerfield Beach has received a Congressional Gold Medal to honor his service to the United States.

US Air Force veteran Richard Goon was a cryptographer in units that served in the China-Burma-India corridor, where he cracked enemy radio codes and translated instructions to the Chinese military. (This branch of the military preceded an independent US Air Force.)

The Congressional Medal was presented virtually Tuesday to Goon at the Grand Villa Assisted Living Community in Deerfield Beach by retired Major General William S. Chen, the first Chinese-American to wear the two-star rank. in the US Army. Goon was accompanied by his family, friends and supporters.

“Richard Goon represents one of thousands of Chinese Americans who have come seeking opportunity and a better life, along with others who are members of ‘America’s Greatest Generation,'” Ed said. Gor, national director of the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project. the Miami Herald. He did his job with pride, Gor said. “He was persistent and determined!”

Said Goon: “I have served my country loyally and I am proud to be an American.”

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U.S. Air Force veteran Richard Goon, 98, center, is congratulated after receiving the Congressional Gold Medal during a virtual ceremony at the Grand Villa Senior Living Community on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at Deerfield Beach. While in service, Goon trained as a cryptographer and was eventually stationed along the China-Indochina border, where he assisted American pilots and the Chinese military in fighting Japanese forces. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Goon was also a Chinese interpreter for the Flying Tigers, a group of American pilots who fought the Japanese during World War II. He also helped pilots find the location of enemy forces, according to New Pelican, a Pompano Beach-based newspaper.

Goon served in the Air Force with the rank of 5th year technician with the 987th Signal Company, which was assigned to the 14th Air Service Group. Gor said Goon “made flights to and from what they call ‘The Hump’ to transport people and supplies for US support to China in the fight against the Japanese.”

“The Hump” is the nickname Allied pilots gave to the airlift operation that crossed the foothills of the Himalayas in China.

During his service from January 1943 to December 1945, Goon received a Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service, among other honors, Gor said.

After the war, Goon graduated from high school, graduated from college, went to law school, and became a lawyer. He then ran a successful restaurant in Florida and had a second career as an actor and model, Gor added.

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U.S. Air Force veteran Richard Goon, 98, center, is congratulated as he holds the Congressional Gold Medal during a virtual ceremony at the Grand Villa Senior Living Community on Tuesday, 5 July 2022, in Deerfield Beach, Florida. While serving, Goon trained as a cryptographer and was eventually stationed along the China-Indochina border where he helped train the Chinese army to fight Japanese forces. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

There is still work to do

Tuesday’s ceremony came about thanks to efforts by advocates to see Chinese-American veterans receive long-awaited military honors.

Intense institutional discrimination against Chinese nationals and Chinese Americans during the World War II era was rampant. As many as 20,000 of the 78,000 Chinese Americans living in the United States during World War II served in the armed forces, and approximately 40% of those service members were not U.S. citizens, due to laws restricting them. refusing the right, according to government records.

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United States Air Force veteran Richard Goon Chinese-American Veterans of World War II Recognition Project

Efforts to address some of this injustice were bolstered when the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese-American World War II Veterans Act was passed in 2018, more than 70 years after the end of the war. war. The act awards a collective Congressional Gold Medal to Chinese-American veterans of World War II in recognition of their dedicated service.

This law was achieved in part through the efforts of the Chinese American Veterans of World War II Recognition Project as well as the Community Involvement Fund of the National Alliance of Chinese American Citizens, who also helped make possible the Tuesday ceremony.

The organizations are currently waging a nationwide campaign to identify, honor and recognize the efforts and achievements of all Chinese Americans who served in the US armed forces during World War II.

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US Air Force veteran Richard Goon, 98, recites the Pledge of Allegiance during a virtual ceremony where he received the Congressional Gold Medal at the Grand Villa Senior Living Community in Deerfield Beach Tuesday, July 5, 2022. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

The Alliance has awarded these medals to about 3,400 Chinese-American World War II veterans or their relatives, Gor said, adding that the goal was to find at least 5,000 more. But there are still veterans who haven’t heard of the award, he said.

“I hope the stories of these men and women who served can help people understand that Chinese Americans participated in the struggle for democracy and freedom,” Gor said.

To receive the Congressional Gold Medal by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, veterans or loved ones are encouraged to email the organization at [email protected] For more information on ways to donate, visit caww2.org/donate.

This story was originally published July 5, 2022 7:53 p.m.

Omar is a bilingual, bicultural journalist, covering breaking South Florida news for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in education from the Universidad de Puerto Rico en Río Piedras.