During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Gordon Chung-Hoon, a World War II Navy Cross recipient.
Gordon Chung-Hoon was born in 1910 in Honolulu, Hawaii. After high school, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In May 1934, he became the first U.S citizen of Asian descent to graduate from the academy.
Chung-Hoon served aboard USS Indianapolis, USS Montgomery and USS Dent. Chung-Hoon served on USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack, but he was on a weekend pass when the attack occurred. He attempted to return to the ship but could not in time due to roadblocks and traffic jams.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Chung-Hoon served as a naval liaison officer with coastal artillery. He was also an executive officer on a destroyer and aboard USS Honolulu. After his assignment in Hawaii, Chung-Hoon commanded USS Sigsbee from May 1944 to Oct. 1945. On April 14, 1945, a Japanese kamikaze plane hit USS Sigsbee off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. Despite an order to scuttle the ship, Chung-Hoon directed repair efforts and defensive maneuvers while continuing to fire against Japanese aircraft. By doing so, he saved USS Sigsbee and the lives of those aboard the ship who could not swim.
For his actions aboard USS Sigsbee, Chung-Hoon received a Navy Cross and Silver Star. Once World War II ended, USS Sigsbee deactivated.
He then transferred to Pearl Harbor as the officer in charge of the Special Activities Division of Service Force, Pacific Fleet from August 1950 to March 1952. In this role, he commanded the destroyer USS John W. Thomason, which patrolled the coast of Korea. In 1956, Chung-Hoon served as the captain of the USS Norton Sound, where he helped test guided missiles. For his last assignment, he served in Washington, D.C., with the Office of Chief of Naval Operations. Chung-Hoon retired as a rear admiral, becoming the first Asian American in U.S. military history to achieve this rank.
After retirement from the military, Chung-Hoon became director of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. He served in this position from 1961 to 1963 before working as a realtor. Chung-Hoon passed away in July 1979. The Navy commissioned USS Chung-Hoon in his honor in 2004.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Alec Zimmerman
Graphic artist: Katie Rahill