Major Chew-Een "Kurt" Lee was born in 1926 in Sacramento California. He was the son of Chinese Immigrants. In 944, Lee enlisted in the Marine Corps because - just like many other Americans during World War II he wanted to join other Americans to fight for his country. He learned Japanese and was stationed at Marine Corps Base San Diego (now MCRD San Diego), where he stayed as a language instructor.
Lee completed officer training in 1946 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He is believed to be the first non-white officer to serve in the United States Marine Corps.
In 1950, Lieutenant Lee landed with his Marines in Inchon, South Korea during the Korean War. Here, Lee fought two battles, "one against the North Korean Forces" that was aided by the People's Republic of China and "one against the attitudes of fellow Marines that questioned his loyalty."
At the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Lee demonstrated his loyalty as he led his troops while under fire in a counterattack. He confused the enemy by shouting at them in Mandarin Chinese while pursuing them. He suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to a field hospital. Disobeying orders, he left the field hospital, took a jep, and returned to the front lines. Lee continues to lead his men; he rescued others who were stranded and ensured that other units could conduct a fighting retreat. He received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for his actions. Continuing his Marine Corps career, Lee served in Vietnam, retiring as a Major in 1968.