1935 Los Angeles City College Field Hockey Team at Griffith park. Susan Ahn is in front row, 3rd from right.
The U.S. Navy initially rejected Susan Ahn Cuddy when she applied for officer training because she was Asian and anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia prevented her from marrying Frank Cuddy, an Irish American. The type who doesn’t take no for an answer, Cuddy became the Navy’s first female gunnery officer (that means she trained male pilots how to shoot 50-caliber machine guns) in 1944, went on to work for the National Security Agency where she had 300 intelligence specialists under her command, and did marry her Irishman with whom she had two children.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Susan Ahn Cuddy, USN
In 1942, like many Korean Americans, the three Ahn siblings, Ralph, Philip, and Susan, children from California’s first Korean immigrant family, enlisted in the U.S. military. The Ahn sister, Susan Ahn Cuddy, was the first Korean American woman in the U.S. military and the first female Navy gunnery officer. For her service in the WAVES, she reached the rank of Lieutenant.
Nisei soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion guarding captured German troops in Italy.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the loyalty of all Japanese Americans were questioned. When they were finally allowed to enlist for military service, they were placed in segregated units. The 100th Battalion were the first group of Japanese American World War II combat infantry soldiers originating from Hawaii. The 100th carved out an exemplary military record during their service in the European Theater, paving the way for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which arrived later.
For its size and length of service, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were the most decorated US military unit. However, it took fifty years for the United States to acknowledge Nisei soldiers for their service and sacrifice to their country. On June 21, 2000, President Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to 22 Asian Americans, 20 of whom were Japanese American WWII veterans.
Korean War Bond drive booth.
Feb 26, 1943. In Hawaii, citizens of all different races mobilized to help the war effort, organizing sales of war bonds aimed at specific subsets of the population. On this date, the Korean community also commemorated the 24th anniversary of Korea’s declaration of independence from Japan.
In 1943, the Women’s Army Corps recruited a unit of Chinese-American women to serve with the Army Air Forces as “Air WACs.” The Army lowered the height and weight requirements for the women of this particular unit, referred to as the Madame Chiang Kai-Shek Air WAC unit. Air WACs served in a large variety of jobs, including aerial photo interpretation, air traffic control, and weather forecasting.
Samoan Fita-Fita Guard. Copied from inside back cover of “All Hands” magazine by USMC Photo Lab, 8 April 1949.
The Fita Fita Guard was the first military unit created in American Samoa in 1904. By World War II the Fita Fita (Samoan for soldier) counted 100 men in its ranks. Samoans regarded the Fita Fita as an elite group, and the men served with pride and dignity. When the Navy left American Samoa after World War II, most of the Fita Fita transferred to Hawaii (the first significant out-migration of American Samoans to the U.S.).