Alice Kim Chong (1909-72) — an English teacher who served with the 14th U.S. Army Air Force in China during World War II — was born in Lawai Valley, Kauai, one of 10 children of Chinese immigrant rice farmers Yee Chong and Sum Kyau Liu Chong, and was educated early on at Kalaheo School.
In 1921, when Alice was 11, her aging father sold the Lawai Valley rice farm he’d leased from McBryde Sugar Co. and relocated to Honolulu with his family.
There, Alice completed her formal education at Kuhio School, McKinley High School and the University of Hawaii, where she earned a B.A. in English literature in 1933.
With teaching positions being scarce at that time in Hawaii, Alice set off to teach in China, to which her father had retired to live in his native village some time earlier.
Her first teaching position in China was at Bridgman Academy in Beijing.
Later, in August 1937, while on her way to teach at Ginling Women’s College, Nanking, she was turned back at Shanghai, then under siege by Imperial Japanese military forces that had invaded China the previous month.
Thereafter, she taught at True Light Middle School in Hong Kong and at the newly relocated Ginling Women’s College in Shanghai.
July 1938 found her following in the wake of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s retreat into China’s western provinces, while on her way to teach at West China Union University at Chengdu.
She finally reached Chengdu after traveling 10 days by boat up the Yangtze River and was later present there when 108 enemy bombers killed 4,000 to 5,000 people in that city.
Alice Chong was commended for her work as librarian in Maj. General Claire Chennault’s 14th Army Air Force Headquarters at Kumming beginning in August 1944.
After the war, Alice graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in English literature and returned home to Oahu.
She taught at the elementary and high school levels until her retirement in 1970.