Be a good American citizen... but don't forget your heritage.
From LA to DC and Back
Susan Ahn Cuddy was born in 1915 in Los Angeles, California as the eldest daughter of Dosan Chang Ho and Helen Ahn. Her parents were the first Korean married couple to immigrate to the United States in 1902. All of the Ahn Children were born in California. Her father told his children to: “Do your best to be good American citizens but never forget your Korean heritage.” As the family established themselves, the Ahn house became a haven for many Korean immigrants. The YoungKoreanAcademy (Hung Sa Dan) made its headquarters at the Ahn′s residence as a resource center for many Korean immigrants. Many exiled Korean patriots, including Soh Chae Pil, the first Korean American citizen, visited the Ahns while they lived at 106 North Figueroa during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The Ahn family also lived at a house on the University of Southern California campus and today it serves as the Korean Studies Institute.
Even today, Mrs. Cuddy's accomplishments are considered remarkable and are, indeed, unparalleled. During her youth Susan Ahn Cuddy worked for many of Dosan′s Independence organizations in Los Angeles. She enjoyed and participated in sports such as baseball and field hockey. Susan graduated from San DiegoStateUniversity in 1940 and joined the United States Navy in 1942 serving until 1946. She felt joining the Navy was a way to help free Korea from the harsh Japanese Colonial Era rule and was eager to join the Navy to fight the Japanese. Susan first worked as a Link Trainer and became the first woman Gunnery Officer training US Naval pilots.
Susan Ahn Cuddy eventually became a Lieutenant and went on to work for US Navy Intelligence, the Library of Congress and The National Security Agency in WashingtonD.C. During the Cold War, she was in charge of a section of over 300 people working in the Russia section. She received a Fellowship from the National Security Agency to study at the University of Southern California in 1956. Afterwards, Susan worked on many top secret projects for the Department of Defense and other agencies during her service with the United States government until 1959.
In April 1947 Susan married Chief Petty Officer Francis X. Cuddy an American Irishman (deceased in 1994) who also worked for Navy Intelligence and NSA. He was a code-breaker and helped the United States free Korea through his specialty work since he spoke Japanese fluently. After his Navy career he worked for Kodak and GAF in film processing sales. He helped finance the Ahn family′s Moongate restaurant business.
In 1959 Susan Ahn Cuddy came home to Los Angeles and joined the Ahn family in managing the famous Phil Ahn′s Moongate Restaurant in PanoramaCity until 1990. In 2003, the State Assembly of California of District 28 named Mrs. Cuddy the Woman of the Year in honor of her commitment to public service. On October 5th, 2006 she received the American Courage Award from the Asian American JusticeCenter in WashingtonD.C.
Mrs. Cuddy, as well as the Ahn family, is one of many Korean American pioneers who are influential and inspiring to many of today′s youth and community leaders. Mrs. Cuddy is recognized and honored today for her commitment to the Asian American community, being a good American and as the pioneer she truly is.
Does that Navy officer look Asian to you? If so, then she could be Susan Ahn Cuddy, sister of actor Philip Ahn. She graduated from San Diego State, and joined the Navy in December 1942, age 27. Ms. Ahn (she was still single then; not many eligible Korean men in Southern California in 1942) was rejected from OCS at first (race), but was allowed to enlist and subsequently sent to Navy OCS at Smith College in Massachusetts. She was originally part of the LINK Trainer program in Georgia, and then an aerial gunnery instructor at Okalaka, Florida. (The first female gunnery officer in the USN, actually; she trained at Pensacola and then assigned to Atlantic City Naval Air Station.) She came out of WWII a 2-stripe lieutenant, assigned to what would today be NSA, where she continued working as a civilian after the war. (Her graduate work done in the 1950s was on a place called Vietnam.)
BTW, Mrs. Cuddy says the way to get your relatives to accept your mixed-race marriage is to have kids.
Source: "A Conversation with Susan Cuddy," "Occasional Papers," a publication of the Korean American Historical Society, Vol. 4, 1998-99; URL: http://www.kahs.org