Sam Wong (1944/03/04)
Corporal Sam Wong was the only recorded Chinese-American death from Santa Cruz County identified during World War II.
Sam was born in China about 1925, to Mr. and Mrs. Tom Wong. Along with Sam and their other children, John, Jimmy, Lily, Mabel, Hazel and Bess, the Wong family moved to Watsonville in 1942. Tom opened and operated the Star Café and Sam enrolled in Watsonville High School. When not attending classes, he assisted his father at the family café. Prior to World War II, Sam also received instruction as an electronic repair technician.
In July 1943, Sam Wong was inducted into the US Army and assigned to its air force. Following his basic training, he received instruction as an aerial gunner. During his tour in the Air Force, Sam rose to the rank of corporal and served aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress as a belly gunner.
Before departing for the European theater, Wong was sent with his plane to Sioux City, Iowa, to take part in a combat training exercise. While participating in that exercise on March 4, 1944, the four-motored bomber began developing engine trouble. Three of the nine-man crew bailed out, while the remaining six, including Sam, were killed when the plane crashed.
The remains of Corporal Sam Wong were returned to Watsonville where a large funeral was held at the (Chinese) Presbyterian Church, followed by burial at the Watsonville Pioneer Cemetery.
(WRP March 6, 1944 1:4, March 11, 1944 1:1)