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Wong F. Pershing – Seaman on the U.S. S. Explorer

In 1917 Wong F. Pershing’s father, Wong Chun Wah, applied to Immigration for pre-investigation as a merchant intending to visit China. The examining inspector believed that the place Wong was working, W. J. London Company, was involved in gambling. The inspector did not believe Wong qualified as a merchant according to the exclusion law. Wong abandoned his connection with this employer and became a merchant for the Quan Yuen Chong Company, a legitimate and bona fide mercantile concern. His status as a merchant was reinstated.

1921 Form 430 of Pershing Wong with Hersheys Chocolate bar.
Form 430 Photo of Wong F. Pershing,” 1942, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Wong F. Pershing case file, Seattle Box 827, file 7030/13628.

Wong Chun Wah again applied to take his wife and three sons, Raymond, Pershing and Chester, to China with him in 1921. Wong showed Immigration Inspector B. A. Hunter the Seattle birth certificates for his children.

On 14 February 1942 Pershing F. Wong was applying to visit Vancouver, British Columbia by bus via Blaine, Washington. His Chinese name was Wong Gok Way. He was born on 27 October 1919 in Seattle, the son of Wong Chun Wah (Wah Fat) and Ann Quan Gee. His mother died in Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle in 1930. Pershing had five brothers and one sister. He attended Garfield high school and was a seaman on the U.S. S. Explorer, Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship. Ensign John Guthrie of the Explorer verified that Pershing F. Wong was the correct name for W. F. Pershing Wah, the name Pershing used on his original application.

The last document in Pershing Wong’s file shows the he was admitted at Blaine, Washington. The Reference Sheet list the file numbers for his father, mother, two brothers, and sister.

Additional information not included in the file:
A newspaper article from the 6 February 1945 issue of the Seattle Daily Times, states that Pershing Wong was the only Chinese deck officer sailing out of Seattle in the American merchant marines; he was a member of the Masters, Mates & Pilots’ Association; and joined the merchant marines in 1941. Wong had just spent 110 days in the Pacific combat area.  It was a turbulent time, besides the heavy WW II bombing, three navy craft were sunk by a typhoon.

According to Pershing F. ‘Perky’ Wong’s obituary in the 14 July 1999, Oregonian newspaper, he retired as a captain in 1985.