[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 149 (Thursday, December 1, 1994)]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: December 1, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


  Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, this year, we commemorated the 50th 
anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, which set into motion the 
liberation of an anguished Europe. D-Day was a monumental undertaking 
and a stunning achievement. However, Mr. President, during the very 
same year, the war in Europe was the backdrop of another event--far 
less historically noted but historic nonetheless--and I would like to 
bring it to the attention of the members of this body.
  On February 22, 1944, Army Air Corps Second Lieutenant Wah Kau Kong 
flew his fourteenth and last mission. From his position as wingman to 
the squadron commander, Kong sighted a Messerschmidt 109. He attacked, 
streaking in from above, a deadly torrent spewing from the machine guns 
of his P-51 Mustang. His aim true, Kong's tracers ripped into the 
German's wing tanks, the exploding fuel rending the craft's airframe.
  Kong pulled swiftly out of his dive to avoid a collision and 
throttled past the burning plane. As the Mustang shot in front of the 
Messerschmidt, incredibly, a lethal fusillade issued from the flying 
inferno. Bullets coursed through the P-51's wings, igniting the fuel 
within, and Kong's fighter erupted in a mass of searing flame. It 
plummeted into the forest below, slicing through a tree before plowing 
into the ground.
  Wah Kau Kong, the first Chinese-American fighter pilot in United 
States history had valiantly given his life in battle to the cause of 
  Born twenty-five years earlier in the quiet Honolulu neighborhood of 
Palama, Wah Kau Kong grew up an exceedingly bright young man with an 
abiding, sardonic wit. He went on to the University of Hawaii and 
graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, with honors. Possessed 
of great athletic aptitude as well, Kong was a skilled competitor in 
swimming, basketball and track and field.
  He also undertook another endeavor. Wah Kau scraped together enough 
money to take up flying lessons. It was the whetting of what would be a 
lifelong thirst for the freedom of flight.
  As a chemist working toward his master's degree when the U.S. entered 
World War II in 1941, Kong found himself in great demand, particularly 
by the Federal Government. However, not having been called to active 
duty, when so many others had, gnawed at Wah Kau. He decided to join 
the fighting and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in early 1942, 
recording the highest national score in his entrance examination. 
Combined with his commissioned officer status through ROTC 
participation in school and his flying experience, it meant immediate 
acceptance into the aviation cadet training program.

  By the end of the year, Kong had completed the primary elements of 
flight school. Then began the greater rigors, and often-harsh 
treatment, of advanced training. The threat of failure was a constant 
companion, and a number of his comrades ``washed out.'' In May of 1943, 
though, Wah Kau Kong got his wings.
  Now, in the final stages of combat preparation, he moved from the old 
training planes to a powerful P-39 Airacobra. Skillful, intelligent and 
gutsy (with the keen reflexes to match his daring), Kong emulated the 
British tactic of ``rhubarb,'' where trains and other ground targets 
would be attacked from levels as low as 20 feet. Not surprisingly, he 
was an adept practitioner. Unfortunately, he was grounded for it when 
two other pilots were badly injured when they crashed while attempting 
to do same.
  Writing to his family, Kong said, ``Flying around here is getting 
sissified . . . just because of an accident or two. If they keep this 
up, there will be no difference between us and bomber pilots * * * 
However in the future I'll cut it out and not try to out-do others too 
  Finally, in October of 1943, Kong was sent to England and assigned to 
the 353rd Fighter Squadron of the 354th Fighter Group.
  The conditions were totally miserable--cold and muddy, with barely-
edible food and primitive facilities.
  His P-51B Mustang was utterly wonderful--new and powerful, with the 
ability to escort bombers at high altitude all the way to Germany and 
  While others christened their craft with the names of girlfriends or 
mothers, exhortations of bravado and the like, it was all far too 
prosaic for Wah Kau. With typical, unabashedly irreverent flare, he had 
emblazoned on the cowling of his Mustang: ``Chinaman's Chance'' and 
``No Tickee-No Washee.''
  Weeks passed before Kong was able to see any action, and he was 
champing at the bit. During an interview with an Army public relations 
officer, Wah Kau thought to spice up his reputation in a more unique 
way, having yet to score any victories in the air. ``Well,'' he said, 
``you could announce that Kong is without question the handsomest 
Chinese fighter pilot in the ETO.'' When it was pointed out that he was 
the only Chinese pilot in the ETO, he replied, ``Well, we could drop 
the ETO and eliminate the Chinese. There's a story, the handsomest 
  Finally, on February 11, 1944, he garnered his first air conquest, 
and what a moment it was! The feat even caught the attention of Time 
magazine, which reported:

                           Kong gets a German

       The frustrated Nazi was at 27,000 feet, madly popping his 
     Fokke-Wulf's guns at U.S. bombers well out of his range. A 
     U.S. P-51B Mustang turned into him and the Nazi peeled off 
     into a diving turn. Ten thousand feet farther down the 
     Mustang pilot nailed his man with a long close-in burst. 
     First the FW's wheels fell out, then the plane exploded and 
     its pieces tumbled earthward. Second Lieut. Wah Kau Kong, 
     pilot of ``Chinaman's Chance'' and one of the U.S. Fighter 
     Command's hottest aerobats, had made his first kill.
       ``The handsomest Chinese fighter pilot in the European 
     Theater of Operations'' is what the slight, Hawaiian-born 
     Lieut. Kong calls himself (he is the only one * * *).

  Time magazine! National recognition! ``The handsomest Chinese fighter 
pilot in the ETO!'' ``(he is the only one . . .)''
  Wah Kau would have been overwhelmed with pride, and surely overcome 
with laughter, about it all. Would have been. The article was published 
on February 28, six days after he had flown his last mission in the 
skies above Blomberg, Germany.
  As one would expect, Wah Kau himself summed it all up best. In a 
letter to his parents, he wrote:

       To me, to sit on the sideline and cheer when I'm needed in 
     the battle, brings a distaste in my conscience and thoughts. 
     I'd like to know and feel that I had a part in the 
     fulfillment of my kind of world and creed--glamour, 
     excitement, adventure, and thrills have something to do with 
     it, but mainly, 'twas my beliefs.

  Mr. President, a far more comprehensive biography, ``Wah Kau Kong, 
America's First Chinese-American Fighter Pilot,'' from which facts and 
excerpts in my statement were gleaned, has been written by Mr. Dean C. 
Sensui and Mr. Mun Charn Wong. It was a genuine labor of love and 
respect for Mr. Wong, who had been a dear friend of Wah Kau Kong since 
their high school days together. In 1944, determined to find out 
exactly what had happened, he embarked upon a personal journey of 
friendship that eventually took him up into the mountains near a little 
village north of Blomberg, Germany--to the exact spot where Wah Kau 
Kong's Mustang had crashed. Mr. Wong was instrumental in establishing a 
special scholarship in Kong's name for academic excellence among Air 
Force ROTC students at the University of Hawaii. I would like to thank 
Mun Charn Wong for enlightening me about the historic and inspiring 
life of Wah Kau Kong.