#23 in a series
Ruby Kim Tape; WWII, WAC
By Paul A. Roales
When I picked up this postcard at the flea market I did not realize the significance of what I had found. I only knew it was sent by a WW2 WAC. A little research revealed a remarkable story.
Ruby Kim Tape, who sent this postcard to her brother, was born on Feb. 20, 1898 in Marysville, CA. into a typical Chinese-American family. Her Father, Joe Kim Wing, was born in China in 1864 and came to Marysville California in 1880. He married Woo Que in 1893 in San Francisco. They had 9 children, 6 survived, Ruby was the oldest. She grew up speaking Chinese. When Ruby was nine her mother, sister, and her went to China to visit her Father's family. They stayed a year and left behind her sister Edna. At age 19, while still in High School because of late start, she moved to San Francisco and attended secretarial school. She met Frank Tape in 1919 or 1920. They were married in 1921 and settled in the Richmond district of SF.
Ruby was active in social causes such as building the new Chinese hospital. Her marriage began to dissolve in the early 1930's. In 1933 Ruby separated from her husband and returned to Marysville to live with her mother. She ran the family store and continued her social work, such as building a playground for Chinese boys. In 1937 after her mother died and Japan officially declared war on China she became actively involved in war related support work such as raising funds for medical supplies and ambulances for the Chinese government.
In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor bringing the United States into World War II. Ruby wanted to serve her country and fight the enemy. She decided to join the Army, but because she was 44 years old her application was rejected at Marysville, CA. She ignored the rejection and went directly to a US Army field unit in San Francisco, took the Army physical exam, and passed with flying colors. Ruby became a private in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on Dec. 12, 1942 (serial number A-903470) . On Jan 23, 1943 she reported for basic training at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. Then 10 weeks training at the School of Army Administration in Conway, Arkansas to learn administrative skills. She was trained as a Clerk/typist (MOS 405). While in Arkansas the WAAC became the WAC (Woman's Army Corps) and Ruby reenlisted for the duration plus 6 years.
She was deployed to Camp Ritchie, Md to work at the Military Intelligence Training Center and provided support services for the training of interrogators, translators, order of battle researchers, photo interpreters, and counter-intelligence operators.. On Jan. 13, 1947 she was sent to Washington DC to work for the Central Intelligence Group under the OSS.
On Feb. 21, 1947 she was transferred to Japan assigned to work in the Allied occupation Forces in Tokyo. She worked in SCAP (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers) Intelligence in 1947 and 1948. She was transferred to Shanghai, China on June 19, 1948 and discharged there on June 28, 1948 with the rank of Tec/Sgt. 5. She was awarded the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army Commendation Ribbon, Japan Occupation Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Medal with clasp.
She immediately got a job with State Dept. Intelligence in Shanghai, then for the ECA (Economic Cooperation Authority) to promote the reconstruction of China. She worked 10 months in China. While in China she located her sister Edna and arranged for her and her husband and children to immigrate to US. In April, 1949 the ECA had to evacuate Shanghai when the Communists took over the country. She went home via Hong Kong.
Shortly after Ruby returned home her husband Frank suffered a stroke. Ruby moved in to take care of him. He died in Nov 1950 of heart failure. Ruby's youngest brother, Jack, to whom this postcard was sent, lived with her in the early 1950's while he was attending college at Berkeley. Ruby went back to work and held jobs with a Chinatown import/export company, the Social Security Administration, the US Navy base at Alameda, and as an interpreter for an immigration law firm. She retired in 1964. She died on April 4, 1975 in Alameda, CA.
Jack Kim (Ruby's youngest brother, to whom this postcard was sent) served honorably in WWII while stationed in Europe in the 70th Infantry Division "Trailblazers" from November 1944 to March 1946. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After returning stateside, he attended and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Berkeley, receiving his O.D. from the School of Optometry in 1951. He worked as an optometrist until his retirement in 1991. He died at age 92 on June 8, 2010.
Note: This article is a compilation from many sources, not all of which agreed on the facts. The main reference sources were the U.S. National Archives and the book: THE LUCKY ONES, Mae Ngai, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. The photos of Ruby and Jack are from the Jack Kim Collection with permission.
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