Burnt Marshmallows Taste Good

Hazel Ying Lee

  • Hazel Ying Lee was born on August 24, 1912 in Portland, Oregon
  • She was one of eight children raised during a time of discrimination against Chinese and Asian people
  • In 1929, Hazel graduated from High School and became an elevator operator at Liebes Department Store
  • In 1932, Lee enrolled in a flying program after a friend let her ride along with him in an air show
  • In October of 1932, she became one of the first Chinese American women to get a pilot’s license
  • After earning her license she went to China to volunteer to fight against the Japanese but was denied because she was a woman
  • Hazel then took a desk job with the Chinese military and sometimes flew for a commercial company
  • In 1938, Hazel returned to the U.S. after fleeing Japanese troops and being held as a war refuge
  • In the U.S., Hazel worked as buyer of military supplies for the Chinese government
  • In 1943, she joined WASP (Women Air force Service Pilots) and became the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the U.S. military
  • The women of WASP weren’t flying on the front lines but still faced danger
  • Many of planes they flew were just off the assembly line and often not tested
  • She completed her training on August 7, 1944 and was assigned to the Air Transport Command’s 3rd Ferrying Squadron at Romulus Army Air Base
  • In September of 1944, Hazel was sent to the Pursuit School in Brownsville, Texas where she received intensive training
  • After training she was able to fly all types of single engine fighter aircraft’s
  • On November 23, 1944, Hazel was involved in a crash with another airplane while trying to land in Great Falls, Montana
  • She survived the crash but had sustained severe burns and died of her injuries on November 25, 1944 at the age of 33
  • Three days after Hazel’s death, her family learned her brother Victor, a member of the US Tank Corp., died in battle in France
  • On December 20, 1944, the WASP program ended
  • Thirty eight female pilots died in accidents and over a 1,000 women took part in WASP
  • The family planned to bury Hazel and Victor in a Portland cemetery but the cemetery would not allow the family to bury them in the chosen spot because they were Asian
  • The family took the cemetery to court and Hazel and Victor were buried in the family’s chosen spot

Source: asiance, wikipedia, cbsnews, pinterest, mocanyc

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