Pocket Life November 2022
By Corky Mau
WWII veteran has vivid memories of military life
Ruth Chan Jang joined the military to help end World War II.
It was 1943 and she was 21 years old when she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. “I really believed that if I volunteered, the war would end sooner,” she says. “I thought our fellows, including my brother Edward, could come home sooner.”
Vivacious today at age 99, Ruth lives with her daughter in Pocket. She turns 100 in December, and her wartime memories are vivid.
She was born and raised in Locke, the Sacramento River levee town. Ruth’s family operated the Happy Café on Main Street. After graduating from high school, she moved to Sacramento for college and worked as a live-in maid for $20 a month.
Ruth knew she could make a bigger difference in the military.
Basic training was in Iowa. The only Chinese woman in her unit, she recalls early morning reveille and marching all day.
Her first assignment was clerical work at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. Being tall, she was recruited as captain of the women’s basketball team. On game days, they traveled to different bases in cargo planes, sitting on very wooden crates. “Now you couldn’t pay me to travel like that,” she says.
Assigned to Mitchel Air Force Base in New York, Ruth helped care for injured servicemen. The work had two perks: She could sleep in a hospital room, not the women’s barracks. And she got to escort wounded soldiers to shows at Radio City Music Hall and on Broadway.
“I enjoyed my time in the service,” she says. “I was from a small town. I became more independent and confident about myself.”
When she returned to Sacramento in 1945, she dated a childhood friend, Harry Jang, a decorated veteran studying architecture at UC Berkeley.
Harry was born in Courtland in 1919, one of 12 children. In the war he hoped to become a pilot but trained as a navigator and flew B-17 bombers.
Harry was sent to Thurleigh, England, and survived more than 35 missions over Germany. The classic war movie “Twelve O’Clock High” was based on his squadron.
With the war behind them, the couple married, worked, raised three children and settled into retirement. Harry died from a stroke in 1998. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “A place has been reserved for me at Arlington. I look forward to being with Harry again,” Ruth says.
Have unwanted confidential documents to shred? Visit Cook Realty at 4305 Freeport Blvd. on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon. A donation of $10 for a banker’s box or $5 for a grocery bag is appreciated. Park curbside and staff will unload your car. Contact Meena Chan at (916) 837-9104.
Portuguese Hall hosts a crab feed Saturday, Nov. 19. For $60 per person, get an all-you-can-eat meal of crab, pasta, salad, wine and dessert. Dinner begins at 7 p.m., followed by dancing to music from DJ Daniels. The hall is at 6676 Pocket Road. For tickets, contact Judy Dias Allen at (916) 947-6695.
GARCIA BEND CLEANUP
Join volunteers for a park cleanup, co-sponsored by Pocket Area Churches Together, at Garcia Bend Park on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 1–4 p.m. Tools and snacks are provided. Sign up at bit.ly/d7winter22.
Food and beverage orders are easy at Promenade’s Device Brewing Company. A new automated system enables customers to order food and drinks from their table. No lines or rattling buzzers. Orders are delivered to your table.
Corky Mau can be reached at email@example.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.