Outside the barracks, by the corner light, I’ll always stand and wait for you at night, we will create a world for two, I’ll wait for you the whole night through, for you, Lili Marleen, for you, Lili Marleen.
- “Lili Marleen” German love song
Allen Pang flew 68 combat missions (mostly in the B-26 Marauder) in World War II over France, Italy and Germany. He is a decorated bombardier/navigator awarded at least eight Air Medals for taking prominent roles in attacks on enemy positions, highways and bridges during the war.
Born in Honolulu, the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941 had changed Pang’s life, but he never lost that trademark mellow Hawaiian demeanor and sense of humor. Pang’s favorite song was “Lili Marleen” which was originally a German song and a German soldier favorite.
When he was released from the armed forces in November 1945, he was determined to continue the education that had been interrupted by World War II - and he wasn’t about to get cheated out of college fun either.
Standing 5-feet, 8-inches tall and weighing 153 pounds, Pang’s college education was interrupted at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But before he returned to Hawaii after the war, he studied at the University of Iowa for his bachelor’s degree, Loyola University where he became a dentist and the University of Illinois where he earned a pediatric specialty. A man of Hawaiian and Chinese descent, Pang at one time could speak two Chinese dialects fluently.
In the midst of becoming a dentist at Loyola he met the woman he would spend the rest of his life with, Kay.
“I was in nursing school and he was a junior in dental school,” Kay said of her first meeting Pang. “He was dating my class alphabetically.”
He tried to impress Kay by taking her to an officer’s club in Chicago on their second date. The first was spent playing volleyball. They were married less than two years later on Sept. 16, 1949 and have remained married for 62 years.
They raised their family here in Rockford after Pang says Kay didn’t care much for living Hawaii, although they have often returned to visit. Rockford was listed as a place that needed a dentist and he thrived here.
“After graduation from dental school, we moved to Hawaii,” Pang said. “But she hated the the weather there. She hates good weather. She is from Indiana. She would say things like ‘The birds are always chirping, the flowers are always blooming and if you promise somebody you will go on a picnic three months from today, you are stuck!’ So we moved back. She prefers the change in weather.”
Pang in some ways is humble. He doesn’t consider himself a war hero. He says plenty of guys did what he did during the war. He is one of those veterans who thinks the heroes are the guys who died on the battlefield.
The rest of us might have a different opinion.