Chew-Mon Lee – Colonel, United States Army

Lee, Chew-Mon
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Company H, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division
Date of Action:  November 30, 1950
HQ Eighth US Army Korea; General Orders Number 463, June 26, 1951


The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to First Lieutenant Chew-Mon Lee, Infantry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving as a platoon leader with Company H, Ninth Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division, on November 30, 1950, in the vicinity of Kunu-ri, Korea.

On November 30, 1950, Company H was defensively deployed near Kunu-ri when a numerically superior enemy force succeeded in completely surrounding the company and subjecting it to intense small-arms, machine-gun and automatic-weapons fire.

During the initial phase of this action the company suffered heavy casualties and the company commander was killed. Lieutenant Lee immediately assumed command of the company and, with complete disregard for the intense enemy fire, deployed the company in a tight defensive perimeter. Realizing that the loss of the company commander had tended to panic the men, Lieutenant Lee moved from one position to another, encouraging his men and steadying those who were confused and bewildered by the heavy casualties suffered and the intensity of the enemy attack.

When accurate sniper fire from a hill about 150 yards distant began harassing his men, Lieutenant Lee and a small group of volunteers attacked the hill and cleared it of enemy opposition. After establishing a small outpost on the hill, he dispatched a messenger through the enemy lines in an attempt to obtain reinforcements. Under his capable leadership the men repulsed several fanatical enemy attacks until a friendly tank force broke through to their position. As it became apparent that the tank crews could not identify the friendly forces, Lieutenant Lee attracted the attention of the lead tank crew, then mounted on top of the tank and, heedless of the enemy fire, directed return fire on the hostile positions with such accuracy that all enemy resistance was eliminated.

MAY 24, 1995

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee. It's an honor to be here today representing 10,000 American women who share a personal and heartfelt belief in the American flag.

My name is Rose Lee and I'm the past national president ofthe Gold Star Wives of America. You might say the Gold Star Wives are the women left behind by those who died serving our country. We're the widows of American servicemen who died on active duty, were killed in action, or died later in life from service-connected disabilities. Our organization was founded exactly fifty years ago by a young World War II widow who felt alone and in need of support from other women who shared the same experience.

But let me assure you the Gold Star Wives offer more than a shoulder to cry on, although that is always available. We're currently fighting to make sure widows have the compensation rights and other benefits they're entitled to by virtue of the service their late husbands performed for this country. Needless to say we're a very patriotic group and believe strongly in the words and ideals contained in the Constitution of the United States. In fact, first among the purposes of the Gold Star Wives is to assist in upholding the Constitution and laws of the United States, and to instill a sense of individual obligation to the community, the state and the nation.

At our national convention last year, the Gold Star Wives unanimously passed a resolution to support a constitutional amendment protecting the U.S. flag from deliberate acts of physical desecration. We added our voice and our volunteer spirit to the Citizens Flag Alliance, the national, non-partisan grassroots organization working for the amendment' s passage. I'm proud to be here today to speak in support ofthat amendment.

The flag means something different to each and every American. But to the Gold Star Wives it has the most personal of meanings. Twenty-three years ago this American flag covered the casket of my husband, Chew-Mon Lee, United States Army. He was a decorated combat veteran wounded in the Korean War. For his service in Korea he received the Army's second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy. He also served as a staff officer in the Vietnam War. And like all of us in this room he was a proud and patriotic American. He died on active duty while stationed on Taiwan, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Every Gold Star Wife has a flag like this one, folded neatly in a triangle and kept in a special place. It's not fair and it's not right that this flag, handed to me by an Honor Guard twenty-three years ago, can be legally burned by someone in this country. My husband defended this flag during his life. When he died it was an honor to have this flag cover his casket. But it's a dishonor to our husbands and an insult to their widows to allow this flag to be legally burned.

In a certain sense I'm here today to finish the uncompleted mission of Chew-Mon Lee, to defend in my own way the flag he defended so bravely throughout his military career.

The flag is a symbol that stands for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. My husband fought for those freedoms, including one we hear a lot about in this debate, freedom of speech. The Gold Star Wives believe that free speech is one of our nation's most important ideals. Our country is a marketplace of many voices and ideas, most of them useful, some of them hurtful. Under our Constitution you can say anything you want against the flag or against the United States. But burning the flag is not an expression of free speech. It's a terrible physical act. And it's a slap in the face of every widow who has a flag just like mine.

I'd like to speak briefly about what this flag symbolizes to me. My parents arrived in this country from China in the early 1 920s. My mother was pregnant at the time with their first child, a son, one of six sons she would have. And all six would eventually serve in the armed forces of the United States. Like many people who come from other lands, coming to the United States was a big step for my parents. But they were proud to become Americans, proud of the opportunities this great country offered. My mother expressed that pride by displaying an American flag in our home each and every day. In a land that welcomes diverse people, the flag in our home represented that wonderful diversity.

But the flag means something different to each of us. We each look at the flag and see something personal reflected there. To some it stands for strength. To others it stands for justice. To my parents it meant diversity and opportunity. To me the flag has come to mean freedom and courage, the freedom we enjoy as Americans and the courage of the men and women who defend those freedoms. I have tried to honor those ideals by flying the flag outside my home on national holidays, especially Memorial Day, Flag Day and Veterans Day. And each day for the past twenty-three years I have kept this flag, the flag from my husband's casket, close at hand.

Although I grew up in California, I live in this area now and often drive past the powerful Iwo Jim a Marine Memorial. It depicts our servicemen so valiantly and proudly raising the flag in a turning point of the war against tyranny and aggression. What a shame it is to permit the desecration of that flag. What an important and meaningful step it would be to make protection of that flag part of our Constitution.

The Gold Star Wives would welcome the day when organizations like ours would no longer be needed — no more wars, no more military widows. But until that day arrives, the Gold Star Wives will be here, each with her own flag, defended with courage, presented with gratitude, accepted with pride.

I urge you to give this flag the protection it so richly deserves.

Thank you.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/08/1972
  • BURIED AT: SECTION 7  SITE 10341-4

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