US Memorial Day: Remembering Hazel Ying Lee, WASP Pilot

Hazel Ying Lee  was one of two Chinese American women in United State’s Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program during World War II (Maggie Gee was the other).  She learned to fly and later volunteered to fight the Japanese in China as a pilot, but since she was a woman she was only given a desk job by the Chinese Military.  She joined the WASP service and worked moving planes for deployment.

Lee died in after plane crash just three days before the Lee family learned that her brother Victor was killed in action in France.  The family wish to have them buried together in Portland in a particular cemetery was initially denied since the cemetery was whites only, but the family eventually won out, and she was buried in a nonmilitary funeral.

Thirty-eight WASP pilots died doing military work, with Lee being the last.  In 1977, the WASP unit was given military status retroactively.

A documentary on Lee was produced and can be purchased here.   We discuss her fellow WASP Maggie Gee in this article.

(photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo – This Image was released by the United States Air Force with the ID 160531-F-PS461-003 (next), Public Domain, Link)

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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