Margaret "Maggie" Gee, whose Chinese name was Gee Mei Gue, was born to a
successful Chinese importer and a first generation Chinese-American.
Maggie's maternal grandparents were fishers who immigrated to the United
States to escape the Taiping Revolution. Her father had a heart attack
on a San Francisco street after the announcement of the Stock Market
crash in 1929, and died shortly thereafter, leaving his daughter, five
siblings, and their mother to manage on their own. Maggie witnessed her
mother take on great responsibility, not only raising six children and
working, but remaining actively involved in her church and community.
Despite hardship and hard work as a youngster, Maggie said, "My heroes
were Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. I loved to watch airplanes
When America entered WWII, she passed a drafting test and
left her first year of college to work at the Mare Island Naval
Shipyards in Vallejo, California as a draftsperson for the engineers
working on classified US Navy ship repair.
By 1942, Maggie had
saved enough money to move to Minden, Nevada for flight lessons, paying
$800 for six months of training and fifty hours of flying time. After
she soloed and accrued the requisite flight hours, she applied to the
Women Airforce Service Pilot program at Avenger Field in Sweetwater,
Texas, and was accepted into class 44-W-9. In June, 1944, in Berkley,
California, she boarded a troop train filled with soldiers, and for the
next two days, sat on her suitcase or stood up -- all the way to
Sweetwater. One hundred seven women pilots entered that class, but she
was one of only 55 who earned their silver wings and graduated as WASP
on November 8, 1944. She promptly deployed to Las Vegas Army Air Field
in Las Vegas, Nevada where she served as a tow-target pilot for male
cadets' flexible gunnery training.
She returned to Berkley,
completed her formal education after WASP deactivation, and traveled,
supervising a European Service Club in the early 1950's.
she worked as a physicist and researcher at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Her areas of
research included cancer, nuclear weapons design, and fusion energy.
lifetime passion for politics began in the Truman Administration, and
she supported voter registration and fundraising. She served on the
Berkley Community Fund, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee,
and as a board member of the Berkley Democratic Club, the California
Democratic Party Executive Board, and the Asian/Pacific Islander
Democratic Caucus. She was quoted during this extensive activity as
saying, "I'm very optimistic about the world and people... It will be
all right. You can make changes. I think just one small person can make a
little bit of change...."
Bio by: PerseidsGirl