top of page

Susan Ahn Cuddy- the first Asian-American woman to join the U.S. Navy.

Susan Ahn Cuddy, (January 16, 1915 – June 24, 2015) was the first female gunnery officer in the United States Navy. Her parents Dosan Ahn Changho and Helen Lee were the first Korean married couple who had immigrated to the United States. Her parents struggled to free Korea from Japanese colonialism. Sadly, Susan's dad died battling for the cause.

Several exiled Korean patriots, including Soh Jaipi, the first Korean American citizen, visited the Ahns when they were staying in 106 North Figueroa during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Her parents' struggle and commitment to Korean democracy have played a defining role in her own culture and values.

Ahn Cuddy graduated from San Diego State University in 1940 and entered the United States Navy in 1942, where she served until 1946.

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Ahn Cuddy enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces and enrolled in the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. She was the first Asian American woman in the Navy. This came at a time when the country's anti-Asian prejudice was strong and women were also struggling with discrimination in the military.

She believed that joining the Navy was a way of helping liberate Korea from the oppressive imperial rule of Japan, and she was willing to join the Navy to combat the Japanese. She served in the Military, becoming a Navy LINK instructor in 1943, teaching aviators how to fly in a simulator cockpit, and then becoming the Navy's first female aerial gunnery officer-in other words, educating fighter pilots how to shoot down enemy aircraft. She learned how to handle some of the weapons men had trouble dealing with.

She worked for the National Security Agency in Washington DC. Mostly during the Cold War, she was in charge of a research organization of more than 300 agents operating in the Russian section.

She wed Chief Petty Officer Francis X. Cuddy, an Irish-American, in April 1947. They contested anti-miscegenation rules and got married. She's got two children, Philip and Christine. Ahn Cuddy decided to leave the intelligence service in 1959 to spend more time with her kids.

In 2003, the California State Assembly of District 28 elected Cuddy the Woman of the Year in recognition of her contribution to public service. In her older years, she remained involved, appearing at Navy and Korean American community gatherings, and also lobbying for President Barack Obama. A survivor of breast cancer, she helped raise funds for the cause.

Susan Ahn Cuddy died in her house in Northridge, California, on June 24, 2015. She was a hundred years old. Her time has been beautifully lived

91 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page