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Photo courtesy of Al Zhang and Atlanta Chinese Life

Photo courtesy of Al Zhang and Atlanta Chinese Life
Chinese Community Pays Its Respects to a Long-Lost Hero
By Guest Columnist Al Zhang
Courtesy of Atlantachineselife.com

CONCORD - This weekend, a hero finally came home. First Lieutenant Robert Eugene Oxford – or Gene, as he was sometimes called – lost his life helping America’s allies in their struggle against hostile invaders. And he has been brought back at last to receive a hero's return.

At his funeral in his hometown of Concord, Georgia on Sunday, June 11, the members of the small town welcomed an unexpected group of mourners. Over 200 members of the Chinese community of Georgia and other Chinese residents from around the country arrived to pay their respects to this man that they didn’t know. These mourners went to honor a man who had sacrificed everything to defend a country to which he did not belong, a people that he did not know.

Eugene and seven fellow members of the U.S. Air Corps went missing 73 years ago on a supply run from China to India in 1944. The 308th Bombardment Group that he was attached to carried out supply runs and bombing runs in support of Chinese ground forces. With no aircraft equipped to moving cargo, Eugene and his fellow airmen were given the perilous task of transporting materiel over the Himalayan Mountains, an area pilots referred to as “The Hump”. High turbulence, unpredictable weather, and a lack of navigation equipment led to the loss of hundreds of Allied planes and more than a thousand casualties.

To the Chinese people, First Lieutenant Oxford is nothing less than a hero. Heroes are selfless, brave individuals who put their lives on the line to help others. While risking one’s life to defend their homeland is in the job description of any soldier, Eugene went a step further, risking his life to protect a country that he hardly knew, a country that, until relatively recently, was not necessarily on the best of terms with his own.

The Chinese community of Atlanta showed that respect and gratitude transcends physical borders and political ideologies. That despite the difference in culture and policy between the two countries, the Chinese community recognizes bravery and sacrifice regardless of ethnicity or cultural background.

First Lieutenant Eugene Oxford died a hero, and the Chinese community in Atlanta will remember him as nothing less.

Click here to read more about this extraordinary event.

Submitted 6.13.17