Thomas Kwok Hung Wong was one of the first Chinese Canadians accepted into the Royal Canadian Air Force. Wong applied in 1939 but was not accepted until two years later when Canada declared war on Japan. Despite enduring discrimination, Wong achieved the highest groundcrew promotion and worked as an aircraft inspector. Listen to Wong’s testimony of service and his contributions to the enfranchisement of Chinese Canadians.
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(Courtesy of The Memory Project/Thomas Kwok Hung Wong)
"We [Chinese-Canadians] did our share during the war and we did our share to fight for our rights which we got in 1947, we got our vote [in federal elections] now, so we were equal to harmonize with the fabric of our society."
I joined the air force or the airplane club in Victoria [British Columbia]. So I had the basic training of the airplane. And I loved flying, so I joined the war because I like flying. Early in 1939, I applied in Vancouver [British Columbia] to get into the [Royal Canadian] Air Force, but I was told to wait until further development and I was accepted after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor [on December 7, 1941]. There’s not many Chinese in the Canadian Air Force, they’re mostly Army. There’s some Naval people, not many. I know I was the first one in because following, there’s a few; very few. Yeah, I was the first one in.
All my family, I’ve been writing home and tell them my progress in my school work, which is pretty high marks and all that. So they’re very, very happy that I was serving the country with interest. So they were very, very happy because myself, being second generation in the war, because two of my uncles served in World War I, so my mother kept it like we were very, very interested to help the country. So patriotically, we were all for it.
So, in the beginning, I was airframe mechanic and then afterward, I was promoted to further study as an aeronautical inspector. So I’m the only, what they call AID, Aeronautical Inspection [District], that’s what it means, so that’s the highest groundcrew promotion you can get – AID – so I went to Malton [Ontario] to study. So I was graduated. I had a very, very good job being an aeronautical inspector.
When I joined, there were a certain amount of discrimination. We were discriminated [against], but I myself, I did my jobs so I have proven that I got the highest reward for my education. We [Chinese-Canadians] did our share during the war and we did our share to fight for our rights which we got in 1947, we got our vote [in federal elections] now, so we were equal to harmonize with the fabric of our society. And I think that’s good.
Other people have a lot of complaint. I have no complaint whatever. The service, they gave me the best treatment because the job I performed, it required cooperation and I enjoy 100 percent. So, on this note, I’d like to tell you that I have no complaint whatever. Despite of the discrimination and all that which was, is not my move to complain. What I did was very, very enjoyable.
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