From Chan's nephew Randy Finfrock:
On 7 Jun 1943, Chan graduated from high school and soon after went to Rantoul, Illinois with several friends with the intention of take pilot training. He passed the written test easily, but failed the color blindness test. He was told 'You'll never fly in a plane." For this reason, on 17 Jun, he elected to join the Army; and from 1 July, was considered on active duty. Oddly enough, he was to later be accepted into the 'Army Air Corps' (the 8th Air Force was needing to quickly replenish its crews), so Chan got another chance. In May 1944, he was assigned as radio operator/gunner and received his wings as gunner in Gunnery School at Yuma, Arizona. He graduated 10th in a class of 450.
In Sep 1944, Corporal Finfrock reported to Rapid City, South Dakota as a radio-gunner on a 'Flying Fortress" (B-17). The route overseas took him from Lincoln, Nebraska to Bangor, Maine and then to Newfoundland and from there to Thorpe Abbotts Air Base in England. At 19, Chan was a Technical Sgt. based there. He was in the 350th Squadron, 100th Bombardment Group, 13th Bomber Wing, serving in the 3rd Air Division, 8th Army Air Force. He served on an 'elite crew' and was the radio operator on the 'lead ship;' He would radio the base with the target information for the entire bombing group.
Chan won the air medal (with several clusters adding to 72 points) for exceptional service as a radio operator and gunner (the youngest in his squadron) on an 8th Army Air Force Flying Fortress, flying missions primarily over Germany. He flew a total of 24 missions from October 1944 through July 1945. After VE Day, he flew between Europe and Casablanca, North Africa, from Austria to Paris, and to Holland carrying prisoners, displaced persons and army personnel.
Chan married Jo Ann Hill, and had 4 children one of whom died in infancy. His other children are Linda, Barb and Scott. Chan's only son Chancy Scott was killed in a motorcycle accident in Pawnee, Illinois only about a year after his father died.
Chan flew with Dick Mullaney and his story is told in more detail in the book Documentary Of An Airman's Tour Of Duty. Rest in peace Chan and thank you so very much for all you did for this country during the war.
This page last updated April 3, 2012