Veterans History Project Service Summary:

  • War or Conflict: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
  • Unit of Service: Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division; Headquarters and Service Battalion Schools Regiment; G-2 Section, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force
  • Location of Service: Korea; Little Creek, Virginia; Hawaii; Vietnam; San Diego, Vallejo, and Camp Pendleton, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Quantico, Virginia; China; Philadelphia
  • Highest Rank: Major; Sergeant

View full service history

“In our sector there was an almost eerie silence. Nobody knew where the enemy was. I could sense palpable fear amongst the Marines…" (Video interview, 58:52).

Determined to serve his country during World War II, Kurt Chew-Een Lee joined the Marine Corps in 1944 at the age of 18. He expected to ship out to the Pacific Theater following boot camp, but was instead assigned to a stateside Japanese language school. Following World War II, Lee was disappointed to have missed the chance to serve in combat, and opted to pursue a career in the military. Becoming the first Asian-American to serve as a regular officer in the United States Marine Corps, he further distinguished himself through his heroism on the battlefield during the Korean War: while leading a platoon at Inchon, Lee’s unit was attacked by Chinese forces. Directing his men to establish a defensive line, he advanced alone in order to provoke the enemy to open fire and reveal their positions. Taking fire from nearby Chinese forces, he called out to them in Mandarin, “Don’t shoot! I’m Chinese!” His American accent gave him away, and the attack continued. Lee was wounded, but his actions saved his men, and he was awarded the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism.

About this Item

Title

  • Kurt Chew-Een Lee Collection

Names

  • Lee, Kurt Chew-Een
  • Morosoff, Serge
  • U.S. House of Representatives/Mike Conoway
  • Thomas J. Wiener
  • Conoway, Mike

State of Birth

  • CA

Home State

  • DC

Headings

  • -  Lee, Kurt Chew-Een
  • -  World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.
  • -  Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.
  • -  Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.

Notes

  • -  Veteran's biographical form lists race/ethnicity as Asian/Chinese.

Repository

  • Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Gender

  • Male

Race

  • Asian

Status

  • Veteran

Service History

  • World War, 1939-1945

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: Headquarters and Service Battalion Schools Regiment
    • Location of Service: San Diego, Vallejo, and Camp Pendleton, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Quantico, Virginia; China; Philadelphia
    • Highest Rank: Sergeant
    • Dates of Service: 1944-1946
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Entrance into Service: Drafted
    • Military Status: Veteran
  • Korean War, 1950-1953

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
    • Location of Service: Korea
    • Dates of Service: 1946-1968
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Military Status: Veteran
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: G-2 Section, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force
    • Location of Service: Little Creek, Virginia; Hawaii; Vietnam
    • Highest Rank: Major
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Military Status: Veteran

Materials

  • Video: MiniDV [4 items] -- Oral history interview (collected 06/24/2010)
  • Manuscript: Military papers (orders, personnel/201 files, etc) [1 item] -- Typewritten document (collected unknown)
  • Video: DVD [4 items] -- Reference copy (collected 06/24/2010)

Collection Number

  • AFC/2001/001/80441

Cite as

  • Kurt Chew-Een Lee Collection (AFC/2001/001/80441), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Online Format

  • image
  • video

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

Using VHP Material in Publication or Exhibition

The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress collects, preserves and makes accessible the firsthand recollections of U.S. military veterans who served from World War I through more recent conflicts and peacekeeping missions, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand what they saw, did and felt during their service. The Veterans History Project Collection includes oral histories along with documentary materials such as original letters, diaries, photographs, and memoirs.

Veterans and interviewers contribute these materials to the Library for scholarly and educational purposes, retaining any copyright they may hold. Therefore, permission must be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication. Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these materials should contact the Veterans History Project for assistance.

As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item from the Library’s collections and for securing any necessary permissions rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Please contact us with questions.

Obtaining Copies of VHP Materials

In order for VHP materials to be duplicated, we must receive written permission from the interviewee for you to obtain a copy of the recording unless the proposed use is limited to personal use, research, or other uses permissible by copyright law. If the interviewee is deceased, their next-of-kin may grant written permission.

Please contact VHP for assistance if you need to contact a veteran for permission to use their materials in exhibition or publication, or if you have received permission from the veteran and need access to high-resolution copies of VHP collection materials.

Citing VHP Materials

Please use the following formats when citing Veterans History Project materials (substituting the appropriate name and collection ID number).

Materials as a whole:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Manuscript material:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Memoirs (MS02), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Transcript (MS04), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Correspondence (MS01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Recording:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Audio recording (SR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Video recording (MV01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Photograph:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH01), photographer unknown, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH03-PH14), Ralph Williams photographer, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Computer file:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Computer file (CF01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Artifact:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Artifact (AR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Lee, Kurt Chew-Een, Serge Morosoff, U.S. House Of Representatives/Mike Conoway, Thomas J. Wiener, and Mike Conoway. Kurt Chew-Een Lee Collection. 1944. Personal Narrative. https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.80441/.

APA citation style:

Lee, K. C., Morosoff, S., U.S. House Of Representatives/Mike Conoway, Thomas J. Wiener & Conoway, M. (1944) Kurt Chew-Een Lee Collection. [Personal Narrative] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.80441/.

MLA citation style:

Lee, Kurt Chew-Een, et al. Kurt Chew-Een Lee Collection. 1944. Personal Narrative. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.80441/>.