Tommy Wong, the first person of Chinese-Canadian ethnicity in the Royal Canadian Air Force passed away Sunday at the age of 101.
Wong was very well-celebrated in Richmond, BC. According to fellow veteran George Ing, Wong was quiet, intelligent and had a “zest for life.”
“He was very, very proud of his military service,” Ing, who is a member of the Chinese-Canadian veteran group Pacific Unit 280, said Tuesday.
As Richmond News reports, Wong was one of five Chinese-Canadian veterans granted “The Glory of Chinese” award for their contribution towards winning full citizenship for all Chinese-Canadians.
Wong had previously faced discrimination and had been rejected by the RCAF on the basis of his ethnicity shortly after the war began in 1939.
However, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the same recruiting office that snubbed him requested his help.
When asked about how he felt being called up due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wong replied, “They asked if I wanted to be air crew or ground crew. My heart was strictly in flying and also, this would be a chance to help bomb the Japanese; so I was well motivated.”
Because of their sacrifices in the Second World War, Chinese-Canadians were given the right to vote and other privileges.
After the war, Wong married his wife, Juney Lim, and opened a woodwork shop inside a theatre in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
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