[The amazing thing about Hazel Lee’s file is that it does not mention that she was a member of the Chinese Flying Club of Portland and graduated from aviation school at Swan Island, Portland, Oregon in 1932. Hazel Ying Lee was one of the first female pilots in the United States. Her file ends in 1938. After she returned to the United States in 1938 she became one of the first Chinese-American female military pilots. See the links at the end of this article to find out more about her. The blog entry for Virginia Wong tells how the connection was made between Virginia Wong and Hazel Ying Lee, Arthur Chin and the other Chinese-American pilots.]
The file for Hazel Ying Lee (Lee Yut-Ying 李月英) tells us that she left for China on 4 March 1933 and returned on 12 December 1938. While she was visiting her father’s village in the Toyshan District, Kwangtung Province, she received word that her Form 430, Citizen Return Certificate, was destroyed in a fire in Hong Kong. When Lee wanted to return to Portland she went to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong for help with her documentation of her U.S. citizenship. They advised her to obtain an affidavit with a current photo swearing to her citizenship.
Hazel Lee’ s brother [the file does not say which brother] went to the Immigration office in Portland to assure that the paper work was in proper order so that Hazel Lee would be admitted when she arrived in the Port of Seattle. The Portland immigration office had a copy of Hazel’s original approved 1933 Form 430 on file. When Hazel arrived in Seattle in 1938 the 1933 information was compared to the new affidavit prepared in Hong Kong and Hazel Lee was admitted to the United States.
Hazel’s 1933 interrogation stated that Hazel attended Atkinson school and High School of Commerce; she was employed at H. Liebes & Company doing stock work and elevator operation; her father, Lee Yet 李乙died in 1930; and her mother was living in Portland. Hazel had nine siblings: Harry Lee, Victor Lee, Howard Lee, Daniel Lee (Lee Wing Doong 李榮宗), Rose Lee, Florence Lee, Gladys Lee, Frances May Lee. Harry and Rose were born in China and the others were born in Portland. Hazel was going to Canton City to visit and study.
Hazel’s mother, Wong Shee, maiden name Wong Seu Lan, was a witness for her. Dr. Jessie M. McGavin, a Caucasian female physician, attended to Wong Shee for Hazel’s birth on 25 August 1912. Her birth certificate is included in the file. The reference sheet in Hazel’s file includes the name, relationship and file number for Hazel’s parents, four brothers and three sisters.
To find out more about Hazel Ying Lee go to:
1. Oregon Encyclopedia
2. First Chinese-American Woman to Fly for Military
Arthur Chin (Chin Suey Tin) was born on 22 October 1913 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon, the son of Chin Fon and Eva Wong (Wong Gue Tai). In 1922 at age eight, he visited China with his family. They stayed fourteen months. He attended Atkinson Grammar School and Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.
He applied to visit China in August 1932 to visit his sick grandmother. In his application he stated he had three sisters: Mildred, Dorothy and Evelyn, and two brothers; Harold and Norman. He left for China in August. A few months later, in November, he enlisted as a fighter pilot for the Chinese Air Force to fight in the Japanese-Chinese war. He became a war hero.
Although Arthur Chin was born in Portland, Oregon, he lost his U.S. citizenship when he joined the Chinese Air Force. He married in China and his two sons were born in Hong Kong. Because of his lost citizenship, his sons, Gilbert and Stephen, were not considered U.S. citizens.
His wife was killed in the war. Major Chin was injured with severe burns and was returned to the United States at Miami, Florida on 25 July 1942 as a war casualty. He was hospitalized for over two years. He was released from the service of the Chinese Air Force on 1 February 1945.
In 1944 his 1922 Certificate of Identification was returned to him. He was repatriated in July 1945 in the U.S. District Court, Portland, Oregon. According to his second wife, Frances, in 1945 Arthur Chin was flying for PanAm Airlines and based in Calcutta, India.
Arthur Chin’s 1945 naturalization #D-376 is mentioned in the file.
[ Much is written about Arthur Chin but his Chinese Exclusion Act case file usually is not mentioned.]
“Wong Quai Yin, alias Virginia Wong, dies while serving as a commissioned lieutenant in the National Commission of Aeronautical Affairs.”
In 1930 Virginia applied to Immigration to visit Vancouver, B.C. as a member of a theatrical troupe. She had two brothers, George (Wong Gong Ho) and Gordon; and four sisters, Betty, Margaret, Alice, and Myrtle. They were all born in Portland. George was a witness for his sister. Nancie D. Singleton, a teacher at Atkinson Public School in Portland, swore in an affidavit that she taught George, Virginia and Gordon Wong and had a general acquaintance with the entire family.
On 9 February 1933 Wong Quai Yin (Virginia Wong), age 21 years, of Portland, Oregon, applied to visit China. She was born on 15 November 1911 to Wong Chock Way and Jung Shee. She had just finished her preliminary training as an aviator. [She was not asked anything about this training.]
A copy of a 3 June 1935 letter to the editor of the Oregonian newspaper was added to the file. Elizabeth Wong, Virginia’s sister, was correcting an error in a 12 May 1935 Oregonian article, “Portland-Trained Chinese Flying to Oriental Fame.” [article not included in the case file] The original article stated that “Miss Wong died in Canton from malaria before the start of a campaign to exploit the air corps through these two women fliers” (Virginia Wong and Hazel Lee). Elizabeth explained that her sister Virginia died in the fall of 1934 at Nanchang while serving as a Commissioned Lieutenant in the National Commission on Aeronautical Affairs and was buried at the National Cemetery of the Air Force at Nanking.
[In the next few weeks there will be more information on the blog about the Al Greenwood flying school for Chinese, where Virginia trained, and other Chinese who trained there. It is surprising that the interviewer did not ask Virginia more about her flight training.]
The website, Disciples of Flight, has an article about the school and the aviators, “World War 2 Flying Ace Arthur Chin’s story is an incredible story of courage and survival during wartime” by Andy Chan, John Gong and Michael Little. It tells about flight training at Al Greenwood flying school in Portland and its connection to the “Flying Tigers.”
The articles has footnotes and a list of sources—books, articles, and websites.