(CNN) Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian-American U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.
During the Korean War, he became commander of a machine gun platoon, to the shock of his men who had never before seen a person of Chinese ancestry. Some even questioned his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Koreans.
In a November 1950 clash, Lee and his men were outnumbered in a surprise attack by Chinese forces. His actions there and in another clash would earn him a bevy of military honors, including the second highest military decoration, the Navy Cross.
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