Art Wong grew up in Oakland, California with a love of working on planes, thanks to his commercial pilot father. He flew a plane for the first time at 16 and had to land the plane in the Oakland Bay. He continued flying after that experience.
Wong became a member of the 359th Fighter Group of the Army Air Forces in March 1944. On Dec. 24, 1944, Wong flew into the front lines in Germany. Wong piloted a P-51, which suffered engine failure during the flight, causing smoke to fill the cockpit. The plane began losing altitude and Wong had to eject, releasing his parachute to make a safe landing.
When Wong landed, German soldiers captured and interrogated him. They marched and transferred Wong to a prisoner of war camp. During his time in the camp, Wong secured a hidden journal that allowed him to write and sketch. On May 1, 1945, Russian forces liberated Wong and his fellow prisoners.
Wong returned home to focus on his education. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and from Harvard University with a Master’s of Business Administration. He had a successful career that included 20 years at Hewlett Packard. Wong also shared his life with his wife, Wilma, and their four children.
After retiring in 1982, Wong moved to San Mateo County in California, where he still resides and shares his inspiring stories of his service. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors honored Wong for his positive attitude and strong example of courage and service.
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Editor: Kelly Dooley
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon