Gordon Chung-Hoon

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Gordon Paiʻea Chung-Hoon
Adm chunghoon portrait.jpg
Admiral Chung-Hoon
Born(1910-07-25)July 25, 1910
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
DiedJuly 24, 1979(1979-07-24) (aged 68)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1934–1959
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Commands held
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsNavy Cross
Silver Star
  • Anita Corson
    (m. 1938; died 1950)
  • Ola Luckey
    (m. 1952; died 1960)
  • Jean Carlisle (m. 1961)
Other workHawaii Director of Agriculture and Conservation

Gordon Paiʻea Chung-Hoon[1] (July 25, 1910 – July 24, 1979) was an admiral in the United States Navy, who served during World War II and was the first Asian American flag officer. He received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of USS Sigsbee from May 1944 to October 1945.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 25, 1910. His father, William Chung-Hoon Jr., a Chinese-English-Hawaiian,[2][3] was a county treasurer and his mother Agnes Punana, a Hawaiian, was a member of the Kaʻahumanu Society. Chung-Hoon was the fourth of five children born to his family.[4] He graduated from Punahou School in 1929.

Military career[edit]

Chung-Hoon attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in May 1934, becoming the first Asian American, U.S. citizen graduate of the academy.[5] While a student he gained national prominence as the football team's halfback and punter, and in 1934 starred on the team that broke an 11-year winless streak against the Army team.[6] In 1958 Sports Illustrated's Silver Anniversary All-American issue featured Chung-Hoon as one of its 1933 football stars.[7]

After graduation Chung-Hoon was assigned to the cruiser USS Indianapolis as an ensign.[8] As of January 1937 he was serving as an ensign aboard the destroyer USS Montgomery.[9] He was a lieutenant (junior grade) on the USS Dent as of January 1939.[10]

World War II[edit]

Chung-Hoon served on the USS Arizona as a lieutenant,[11] but was in Honolulu on a weekend pass during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Chung-Hoon heard the attack from Honolulu and attempted to return to his ship but was delayed by roadblocks and traffic jams.[12] By the time he reached the Arizona the ship had already exploded and sank.

After the sinking of the Arizona, Chung-Hoon served as a naval liaison officer with coastal artillery before becoming executive officer on a destroyer in 1942, working convoy details in the Atlantic.[13] He also served on board the USS Honolulu.[14]

From May 1944 to October 1945 Chung-Hoon commanded the destroyer USS Sigsbee. In the spring of 1945, Sigsbee assisted in the destruction of 20 enemy planes while screening a carrier strike force off the Japanese island of Kyūshū. On April 14, 1945, while on radar picket station off Okinawa, a kamikaze crashed into Sigsbee, reducing her starboard engine to five knots and knocking out the ship's port engine and steering control. Despite the damage, then Commander Chung-Hoon kept his antiaircraft batteries delivering "prolonged and effective fire" against the continuing Japanese air attack while simultaneously directing the damage control efforts that allowed Sigsbee to make port under her own power.[1]

The damage had been severe enough that Admiral William Halsey, Jr. told Chung-Hoon to scuttle the ship. However, Chung-Hoon declined to do so, telling the admiral "No, I have kids on here that can't swim and I'm not putting them in the water. I'll take her back."[15]

The next day Chung-Hoon led a burial at sea for the dead. One crewmate said of Chung-Hoon during the burial, "I often remember that the only man tough enough not to duck, was also the only man tender enough to cry."[14]

For Chung-Hoon's service aboard the Sigsbee he received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism.[1]

During the war, two of Chung-Hoon's brothers served in the army in the Pacific theater.[13]


After Sigsbee inactivated following the end of the war, Chung-Hoon was transferred to Peal Harbor in November as officer in charge of the Special Activities Division of Service Force, Pacific Fleet, responsible for various administrative duties.[16]

From August 16, 1950, to March 7, 1952, Chung-Hoon commanded the USS John W. Thomason (DD-760) during the Korean War. Under Chung-Hoon's command the destroyer operated as part of the 7th Fleet, patrolling off the coast of Korea and taking part in gun bombardments.

He was promoted to the rank of captain on 1 July 1953.[17]

Chung-Hoon served as captain of the guided missile testing ship USS Norton Sound (AVM-1) between July 1956[18] and August 1957. He was subsequently transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.,[19] his last post.[20] Chung-Hoon retired in October 1959 and was promoted to rear admiral upon retirement, making him the first Asian American flag officer of the United States Navy.[17][21]

Later life and legacy[edit]

He was appointed to be the director of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture by the first Governor of the State of Hawaii, William F. Quinn, and held that position between January 1961 and June 1963. Chung-Hoon subsequently worked as a realtor.[22] He made a foray into politics by running as a Republican for one of the four seats representing the Hawaii 7th State Senate District in 1966, but finished fifth in the primary.[23] Chung-Hoon died on July 24, 1979[24] at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.[7]

The Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, commissioned in 2004, is named for him.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Chung-Hoon first married Anita Corson while serving aboard Dent in December 1938;[26] she died of cancer in 1950.[27] He remarried Ola Luckey in 1952, but she died of cancer in April 1960, months after they had returned to Honolulu following his retirement;[28] Chung-Hoon retired in order to spend more time with his wife.[29] He married his third wife, travel consultant Jean Carlisle (died 2001), in January 1961, adopting her son, Perry White; Chung-Hoon was otherwise childless.[30][31]

Navy Cross citation[edit]

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander Gordon Paiea Chung-Hoon, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of this profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. SIGSBEE (DD-502), a unit of an Advanced Picket Group, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, on 14 April 1945. Although his ship suffered major damage when struck by an enemy plane and all power was lost, Commander Chung-Hoon coolly carried out defensive maneuvers and directed his anti-aircraft batteries in delivering prolonged and effective fire against the continued heavy enemy air attack. Afterwards, he supervised damage-control procedure which resulted in his ship being made sea-worthy for a safe return to port under its own restored power. Commander Chung-Hoon's gallant fighting spirit, courage and unwavering devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.[32]


  1. ^ a b c d William Cole (September 16, 2004). "USS Chung-Hoon at home in Pearl Harbor". Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  2. ^ JO1 Daniel J. Calderón (20 September 2004). "Chung-Hoon Commissioned". Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs. United States Navy. Archived from the original on 2007-09-13. Retrieved 19 June 2011. The commissioning ceremony paid homage to Adm. Chung-Hoon’s combined Chinese and Hawaiian ancestry.
  3. ^ William Cole (16 September 2004). "USS Chung-Hoon at home in Pearl Harbor". The Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved 19 June 2011. Chinese, Hawaiian and English ancestry.
  4. ^ "Rear Admiral Gordon P. Chung-Hoon Archived 2015-09-22 at the Wayback Machine" from Asian-American WAR Heroes, accessed March 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Gelfand, H. Michael (2006). Sea change at Annapolis: the United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000, Volume 415. UNC Press. p. 48. ISBN 0-8078-3047-X. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  6. ^ Jack Clary (October 19, 2008). "Navy To Play Its 1200th Football Game Saturday Against SMU". Navysports.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Adm. Gordon Chung-Hoon: Naval Hero, Civil Servant". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Newspapers.com. 26 July 1979. Retrieved 11 November 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ "Navy directory. Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, also including officers of the U.S. Naval Reserve Force, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast ... Apr 1934-Jan 1936". HathiTrust. p. 16. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  9. ^ "Navy directory. Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, also including officers of the U.S. Naval Reserve Force, Marine Corps Reserve, Coast ... July 1936-July 1938". HathiTrust. p. 17. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  10. ^ 1938 US Navy Directory, Active List, page 17.
  11. ^ "BOOK REVIEW – The Men of the Arizona (BB-39) Archived 2016-03-07 at the Wayback Machine" reviewed by LCdr. Jason P. Grower, USN, Naval Historical Foundation, Dec. 6, 2016.
  12. ^ Duty, Honor, Victory: America's Athletes in World War II by Gary L. Bloomfield, Globe Pequot, 2004, page 20.
  13. ^ a b "Chung-Hoon, Former Grid Great at Academy Still Winning Letters on Pacific Navy Team" by Laurie Johnston, The Honolulu Advertiser, 1945.
  14. ^ a b "TESTIMONIAL TO GORDAN PAEIA CHUNG-HOON, Captain USS SIGSBEE 14 May 1944 to 19 June 1945" by John R. Williams, Signalman Second Class, USS Sigbee website, accessed 7/25/16.
  15. ^ "USS Chung-Hoon at home in Pearl Harbor Archived 2012-09-28 at the Wayback Machine" by William Cole, The Honolulu Advertiser, September 16, 2004.
  16. ^ "Cmdr. Gordon Chung-Hoon Now On Duty At Pearl Harbor". Honolulu Advertiser. 21 November 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  17. ^ a b Register of Retired Commissioned and Warrant Officers, Regular and Reserve, of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1964. p. 65.
  18. ^ "Chung-Hoon Captain of Missile Ship". The Honolulu Advertiser. 14 August 1956. p. A10. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  19. ^ "Capt. Arthur R. Galla Takes over Norton Sound". Oxnard Press-Courier. 2 August 1957. p. 1. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  20. ^ "Adm. Chung-Hoon Retires to Hawaii". Independent. 10 December 1959. p. 12. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  21. ^ "Best Wishes". Newspapers.com. 13 January 1961. p. 14. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  22. ^ "Chung-Hoon in race for State Senate". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 21 July 1966. p. A-13. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  23. ^ Engledow, Ed (3 October 1966). "Hot Fights Loom In Senate Races". Honolulu Advertiser. p. A-1A. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  24. ^ Lt. j.g. James McLeod (September 10, 2004). "Chung-Hoon arrives today" (PDF). Hawaiʻi Navy News. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  25. ^ Calderón, Daniel J. (September 20, 2004). "Chung-Hoon Commissioned". Navy NewsStand. Archived from the original on 2018-07-31. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Chung Hoon-Corson Rites Held Thursday in Twilight". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 10 December 1938. p. 3 (Society). Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  27. ^ "Anita Chung-Hoon Dies at Tripler; Funeral Friday". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 4 May 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  28. ^ "Mrs. Ola Chung-Hoon Dies; Services Saturday". Honolulu Advertiser. 28 April 1960. p. C4. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  29. ^ Waite, David (12 October 2000). "Missile destroyer to honor officer". Honolulu Advertiser. pp. B1, B2. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  30. ^ "Obituaries". Honolulu Advertiser. 21 April 2001. Archived from the original on 2001-07-17. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Mrs. Jean J. Carlisle Married To Rear Admiral Chung-Hoon". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 1 February 1961. p. 20. Retrieved 11 November 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  32. ^ "Hall of Valor for Gordon Paiea Chung-Hoon, Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine" Military Times, accessed March 5, 2016.

External links[edit]