Why Chinese-Americans flooded a Georgia WWII veteran’s funeral

When 1st Lt. Robert Eugene Oxford’s flight went down in 1944, he was carrying supplies from China over the Himalayas.

On Sunday, hundreds of Chinese-Americans poured into his tiny hometown of Concord, about 50 miles south of Atlanta, to honor him. His remains returned to Georgia last week 73 years after the mysterious plane crash in a remote ravine.

“These mourners went to honor a man who had sacrificed everything to defend a country to which he did not belong, a people that he did not know,” read a story in the Atlanta Chinese Life publication. “The 308th Bombardment Group that he was attached to carried out supply runs and bombing runs in support of Chinese ground forces.”

Merrill Roan, who is married to one of Oxford’s nephews, was overwhelmed with the deluge of mourners.

“It was a blessing,” she said Tuesday. “They showered us with gifts.”

One woman burst into tears telling Roan how thankful she was for Americans who helped the Chinese hold off Japanese troops.

“If it wasn’t for your uncle, none of us would be here,” Roan recalls her saying.

Roan led her family's efforts to have the U.S. government excavate the crash site, which was found in 2006 by the director of the MIA Recoveries nonprofit.

After his remains finally arrived, the family asked for mourners to donate to the nonprofit, which searches for crash sites in the Himalayas.

Roan said she’s heard of thousands of dollars donated by Chinese-Americans in recent days.

Suping Feng, a software developer who lives in Suwanee, was among the residents who came from the Atlanta area to the funeral. She said her reasoning for the trip wasn’t unlike that of the others:

“I think we should say thank you to all American people who helped Chinese people,” she said.

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