Chinese-American B-17 Navigator Alfred Yuen Soo passed away May 3, 2020


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Alfred Yuen Soo
May 21, 1922 – May 3, 2020
Our Dad passed away peacefully early on Sunday morning. He was born in Berkeley, CA to Bing Yue Soo and Ivy Dang and was the youngest of eight children. He was a third generation Chinese-American and lifelong resident of the East Bay Area, living in El Cerrito for 64 years.

His family was first and foremost in his life. He married Nettie (Wong) on July 24,1949, who predeceased him in 2005. He is survived by his children: Linda Rains (Lyle), Charmaine, Cynthia Lew (Tim), Rodney (Ling), and Nancy; four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter; sister, Marie Fong; four in-laws; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Al attended public schools and graduated from Berkeley High. As a result of WWII, Al was drafted into the Army in 1943 and received training as a navigator. He was assigned to a bomber crew that flew a B-17 out of Knettishall, England.The plane was hit by flak on his third mission over Hamm, Germany. He survived being blown out of the plane, needed three operations, and was a POW for the last six months of the war. 2nd Lieutenant Al Soo was awarded a Purple Heart.

Through the GI Bill, Al completed his civil engineering degree from U.C. Berkeley and then was employed by CalTrans for 35 years. In his retirement, Al and Nettie enjoyed traveling, including car trips and cruises with family and friends. Special to Al were attending 388th Bomb Group annual reunions, visiting his children in Southern California, Hawaii, and Washington State, and cruising in China and Alaska and through the Panama Canal. Al looked forward to all family gatherings, especially the recent Soo Family Chinese New Year celebrations, where five Soo generations gathered for food and conversation.

Al will be remembered by family and friends for always having engaging conversations about their interests, careers, basketball strategies, U.C. Berkeley Bears, Golden State Warriors, WWII experiences, and for his love of Chinese food.

The family wishes to express thanks to his caregiver, Uinita, and to the SFVA Medical Center staff for the thoughtful and dignified care of their father.
(Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed near Eisleben on 11/26/44 in B-17 'thunderbird' #446626)

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle from May 12 to May 17, 2020.

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