First Asian American U.S. Marine Officer Dies At 88

Story tools

A A AResize

Print

 
 
Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian American officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, who was decorated for his legendary service in the Korean War, has died this week at his home in Washington DC. He was 88.


The son of Chinese immigrants, Maj. Lee was a gung-ho Marine who climbed the ranks and broke barriers during a time strong racial prejudice. A recipient of the Navy Cross, the Marines' second-highest honor -- really, experts say deserved higher -- Maj. Lee is perhaps best known for his fierce bravery in combat during a assault by Communist Chinese forces in Korea on the night of November 2-3, 1950.

The 2010 documentary Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin, recounts how Lee led 500 men through a nighttime blizzard and rebuffed an attack by enemy forces to save 8,000 Marines from capture at Chosin Reservoir. Read more here.