WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 5, 2014) — The Organization of Chinese Americans, Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), is deeply saddened by the passing of Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee.
Major Lee was the first Asian American to be commissioned as a regular officer and the first Asian American to be assigned command and staff billets in combat units. Born in San Francisco and raised in Sacramento, California, Major Lee was a selfless hero of his units, epitomizing the fundamental ideals of the US Marine Corps through his bravery and dedication to his country.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family of Major Lee during this difficult time,” says Sharon M. Wong, OCA National President. “Major Lee was a true pioneer for the APA community, breaking barriers and serving as a fearless leader.”
As a Marine, Major Lee undertook a self-imposed mission to consciously demolish the fallacious thinking spread by Hollywood movies and by the weakness displayed by the effete Ching government against depredating Western powers during the colonial period that the Chinese, as a race, are too meek, obsequious and subservient to make good soldiers.
Through his strong work ethic and fearless attitude, he was instrumental in opening the United States Marine Corps towards accepting more racial minorities into its officer ranks. Major Lee was honored with OCA’s Pioneer Award in 2012 at the OCA National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“We are grateful for Major Lee’s contributions to not only our community but also our country,” says Tom L. Hayashi, OCA Executive Director. “His fighting spirit lives on and continues to inspire our efforts to obtain respect and honor for all APAs in the armed forces.”