Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Ming Chang, who was the first naturalized Asian American to reach flag rank in the Navy.
Ming Chang was born in Shanghai in 1932. His father was in the U.S. Navy. At the age of 14, he emigrated to the United States with his mother, eventually becoming a citizen. He worked hard and attended William and Mary College in Virginia, where he was among a small group of Asian American students.
At William and Mary, Chang earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in mathematics. After graduating in 1955, he followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the Naval Reserve, eventually joining the active Navy in 1960.
During his service, Chang filled assignments in the Navy cruiser and destroyer commands. These assignments included being a commanding officer of USS Rathburne, commander of USS Reeves, commander of carrier group Three, commander of the Third fleet and commander of the cruiser destroyer Two, among many more positions. Chang also earned an additional bachelor’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in electrical engineering. He received many awards and honors including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with combat V denotation and the distinguished lifetime achievement award from the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.
He served for 34 years, retiring in 1990 as a rear admiral and was the first naturalized Asian American to reach flag rank in the Navy in 1980. Charlotte Chang, Ming’s wife of 61 years, said he “would approach everything by trying to be the best he could be. He felt confident he would be recognized for his ability, and he was.”
After retirement, he was the vice president and corporate director of the Pacific region at Raytheon. President Clinton later appointed him to the advisory board for the World War II Memorial. He also served on the board of trustees for the College of William and Mary and as the chairman of the U.S. Merchant Marines Academy advisory board, among many other post-retirement commitments.
Chang died in 2017 after battling Parkinson’s disease.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Kimberly Kassis
Editors: Alexander Reza, Merrit Pope
Researcher: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphics: Kiki Kelley