HONOLULU (KHON2) — Americans answered when the call went out, from every state and every branch of the U.S. military. The choices were very limited for Asian Americans, however, especially women.
98-year-old Marietta Eng got ready to meet top brass to receive a Congressional Gold Medal while wearing her uniform that still fits today.
Officials came to her Kaimuki rest home with gold — and a message from Washington.
Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono also paid her respects to Eng for her service.
“On behalf of Congress, mahalo nui loa for your service and commitment to our country.”Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono
Eng was honored and awestruck at the “weight” of her achievement.
Rear Adm. Alma Grocki said, she thinks Marrieta was Mare Island’s only Asian American occupational therapist.
“When she got commissioned she went to Mare Island as an occupational therapist. I believe she was the only Asian officer doing that.”U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Alma Grocki
Members of Eng’s family were also in attendance to celebrate.
“It’s wonderful they’re honoring Chinese Americans in World War II. She was apparently the only woman in the Navy at this time. We’re proud and happy she’s receiving this medal today.”Diane Chong, Marietta Eng’s niece
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee said, Eng’s picture on the medal looked so good that he thought she posed for it.
“We decided to pick the common occupation of all the women from the Army, the Navy and the Army Air Forces, and that happened to be a nurse. That’s why I told Marietta, ‘looks like you posed for your picture on the medal. It looks pretty good.'”Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, Chinese Veterans Recognition Commitee
Rear Adm. Grocki said, the message is clear in this troubling time for Asian Americans.
“If you care about our country, you can do your part wherever you come, whatever your background is, if you have that desire, that’s really what it says.”U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Alma Grocki