USS HOUSTON NEWSLETTER (the story of Ziang Fah Lien)
To a Special Veteran, My Dad:
In 1938, a month before I was born, you joined the navy aboard a heavy cruiser Of and on, the ship cruised up and down the Chinese coast from Tsingtao to Hong Kong as the flag ship of the Asiatic Fleet of the US Navy, and you as a lowly steward - an Officer's "Boy".
Then the war drums became louder, the ship retreated to the Philippines in 1941. You joined many gallant sea battles: the Battle of the Flores Sea, the Battle of the Java Sea, and the Battle of the SundaStrait where the Imperial Japanese Navy wiped out the newly formed and the last remaining suicidal resistance mission of the combined Allied Navy known as ABDA: American, British, Dutch, Australian.
You gave your life along with 700 of your 1065 shipmates and the ship on March 1, 1942; to this day, you still stand watch over the ship where she went down off the Coast of Batavia; your remaining 380 or so shipmates became POWs to build the bridge over River Kwai in Burma, only about 280 returned home to tell their hellish ordeal in the POW camps three years later Some never could !
Your destitute family didn't know your whereabouts for 4-5 years during which your wife and one daughter died. We had yearned that you had survived the sinking and were hiding in the jungles of Java to avoid capture, as some Japanese soldiers did. But that was not to be, for with your death came the Veterans' benefits for the family, among which was a $3,000 government-issued insurance policy in my name, payable in $3 monthly installments.
Thank you, Dad, for your sacrifice which changed our lives forever, and for thinking about us when you knew the risk when filling in the beneficiary names.
For decades, not a Veterans' Day goes by without me shedding tears, and thanking you for your sacrifice. I only hoped to be worthy of your sacrifice. Others are more fortunate to have fathers, or their fathers' graves to kneel down at, to say a prayer and to offer their thanks, and to place some flowers.
Your grave is the watery bearing of 7,000 miles away: Long. 107 07' 55" E; Lat. 05 48'45" S over which one cannot place flowers!
Thank you, Dad, on Veterans' Day.
With love and gratitude;
From your remaining son
More Chinese Americans who served with the USS Houston and SURVIVED ! LINK ... see second photo down.