16th Fighter Squadron Photograph Collection Li

Kuo Ching "K. C." Li, Jr. was born in Glen Cove, New York, in 1921, the son of Dr. Li Kuo Ching. He attended Friends Academy, Locust Valley, New York, and Kent School in Connecticut. Li studied engineering at Cornell University before enlisting in the Army Air Forces in June, 1942. He received his training at Craig Army Airfield in Selma, Alabama, in December, 1943. Li flew sixty-four missions in his P-51 Mustang "The Vicious Virgin," and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier's Medal, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. After the war, Li received a degree from Swarthmore College. Later, he took over management of his father's company, Wah Chang International Corporation, selling it to Teledyne Inc. (later known as Allegheny Technologies Incorporated) in 1967. Li later opened a restaurant, K.C.'s, on West 10th Street in New York City. The 16th Fighter Squadron was constituted on November 20, 1940 as the 16th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor). Equipped initially with Curtiss P-40 fighters, the squadron was activated at Hamilton Field, California on January 15, 1941. Assigned to the Tenth Air Force, the squadron deployed to the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater in March 1942. The squadron initially defended the Indian terminus of the vital "Hump" airlift route over the Himalayas between India and China, operating from the Assam Valley of northeast India. The squadron flew strafing, bombing, reconnaissance, and patrol missions in support of Allied ground troops during a Japanese offensive in northern Burma in 1943. In October 1943, the 16th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the Fourteenth Air Force and redeployed to southeast China for the defense of the Chinese end of the Hump and the air bases in the Kunming area. In 1944, the squadron was reequipped with North American P-51 Mustangs. The squadron returned to India in the fall of 1945 and sailed for the United States in November. The 16th Fighter Squadron was deactivated on December 13, 1945.