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

Edward

Well-Known Member
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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.
 

kirova

Active Member
this is probably the second or third story of Chinese-American serving in the USAAF we have read about in VLJ, I guess racial segregation didn't applied to them back in WW2? ie unlike Tuskegee Airmen or 442nd Infantry Regiment

curious to know as I am of Chinese descent myself. hopefully I am not opening a can of worms here :)
 

Nnatalie

Well-Known Member
this is probably the second or third story of Chinese-American serving in the USAAF we have read about in VLJ, I guess racial segregation didn't applied to them back in WW2? ie unlike Tuskegee Airmen or 442nd Infantry Regiment

curious to know as I am of Chinese descent myself. hopefully I am not opening a can of worms here :)
This is from wikipedia, so take it for what it's worth, but "it has been estimated that between 12,000 and 20,000 Chinese-American men, representing up to 22 percent of the men in their portion of the U.S. population, served during World War II. Unlike Japanese and Filipino Americans, 75 percent served in non-segregated units." A quarter of the men served in the USAAF. The navy restricted Chinese-Americans to only serving a stewards until May of 1942. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese-American_service_in_World_War_II)

Here's a little blurb I found on the US Army website: https://history.army.mil/html/topics/apam/chinese-americans.html
An excerpt:
In 1943 the Army Air Forces organized some support units for the China-Burma-India theater, including the 14th Air Service Group, composed predominantly of Chinese-American personnel. Other Chinese-Americans trained as pilots and aircrew and fought in Europe and the Pacific. However, most were assigned to regular ground units.

An estimated 40 percent of Chinese-American soldiers were not native-born citizens. After Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, many took advantage of their military service to become naturalized.
 

Micawber

Well-Known Member
Lest We Forget.

The old 388th BG H airfield at Knettishall was a short dog walk from our previous property so I know it pretty well. Areas of the concrete still have boot prints and bike tyre tracks from when it was just laid. One T2 hangar remains and a few other buildings scattered about. There is a really nice memorial near the site of what was the main entrance and not far away there used to be an old tree which still bore carved initials done by group personnel in WW2. Nice little museum nearby run by a personal friend of mine.
 

shedonwanna

Active Member
small world. my father was also navigator with the 388th and we were friends with Al Soo. Another Chinese pilot member of the 388th was Don "swede" Ong. Don completed 30 missions and returned to the states. he then volunteered to return to the 388th and flew another 20. the bombardier on my dad's crew was Hungarian. i am still an associate and past president of the 388th association. the following image is Don Ong.
OngD.jpg
 
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