May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. During the month many institutions pay tribute to the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history. One such American was Richard C. Wing.
Wing was a sergeant in the United States Army and became General George C. Marshall’s cook and orderly at Fort Myer, Virginia in 1944. He later accompanied Marshall on his mission to China in 1946 and to the “Big Four” Foreign Ministers Conference in Moscow in 1947.
The Richard C. Wing collection contains Wing’s personal memoirs, letters between Wing and the Marshalls, photographs, documents relating to Wing’s military service, articles about his Imperial Dynasty restaurant and a few other miscellaneous items. Three of the most intriguing items in the collection are a letter to his sister, Harriet, a copy of a speech Wing made and a DVD containing an interview done for a local television station.
In the letter to his sister Harriet, Wing recalls his social engagements while in Moscow in 1947. He tells his sister about the dance party that Marshall attended in celebration of Army Week. Wing writes “General Marshall came in about 10 o’clock with Ambassador Smith and Mr. Stassen. The General greeted everybody and he asked the band to start the dance music. The General then grabbed a girl and was the first one on the dance floor. Stassen was beaming with great delight watching the dignified Secretary of State jiving the jazz music away. The General is really a good dancer. He stayed about 15 minutes and went home . . . The General took part in the Cinderella Dance…with over 50 girls strung along one side and over 100 men on the opposite side. The girls took off one shoe and threw it into a pile in center of the ballroom floor. When the music started, General Marshall, together with over 100 diplomatic wolves, fought toward the shoe pile and started hunting for the Cinderella with the missing shoe.”
In 2003 Wing was asked to give a speech at the Judges’ Dinner in Kings County, California. For 33 years Wing had been cooking for this event. In the speech he recounted his heritage in the restaurant world. His grandfather catered to the Chinese railroad workers in 1883 and created a restaurant what would become the Imperial Dynasty. Wing also spoke of the three people who greatly influenced his life, General Marshall being one of them. He continued to talk about an event where “the three great ladies Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Madame Wei Taomin and Mrs. Marshall” tried to set him up with a woman whom he considered out of his league.
In 2006 Wing was interviewed by a local NBC station as part of their “Stories of Service” program. In the interview, Wing again talks about his admiration for General Marshall:
Parts of the Richard C. Wing collection are available online and the whole collection is available for review at the George C. Marshall Research Library.