Memoir of Lucky Joe

Memoir of Lucky Joe

by Joseph H. Yang


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America is still a land of opportunities, when you have good friends and schoolmates, appreciative bosses who value your potential to contribute to their enterprise,regardless of your race,national origin or speaking English with foreign accent.
But it is not inevitable that you can have a great journey in America.

God luck will make it happen.

This is a true story of Joe's lucky journey in America.

Joe came to Seattle with a foreign student visa from Taipei in 1960.
His first job in Seattle was a night shift janitor at Doctors Hospital so he might go to school during the day. Two years later his physics laboratory partner got him a job as a part time technician at Being Airplane Company. The Boeing experience got him a teaching assistantship in electrical engineering department of Johns Hopkins university in 1963. He finished his Ph.D. dissertation in 1968.
He taught Communication Systems at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1968 -1969.

Not by planning he luckily entered into American military industrial complex world beginning 1970.

First Joe received his security clearance from US Department of Defense in 1970 at Page Communications Engineering company in Washington, D.C. and then the clearances from the US Navy, US Army and US Department of Energy. He was naturalized to be American citizen in July of 1970.
Between 1970 and 1987 he worked hard as a system analyst, operational analyst and project director for the US Navy and the US Army, reaching the top rank of GS-18 in Senior Executive Service of the US Government. He received one Outstanding civilian Service Medal from the Department of the Army and a Distinguished Public Service Award (medal) from the Secretary of the Navy. During this period he travelled all over the world for his job, by air, by land, on water and under water of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In 1987 he was hired as manager of strategic planning at Westinghouse Defense
Group in Baltimore and chairman of Westinghouse annual R&D symposium(1988-1995). He was also appointed President of Westinghouse Electronic Systems International Marketing Company (1988-1992). He marketed electronics system of F-16s for more than twenty F-16 user countries.

Grumman purchased Westinghouse Defense Group in 1995 and made him Director of special projects pursuing business opportunities in the post Soviet market in Moscow of New Russia and Cape Town of the new Republic of South African.
Joe's interest in global technology issues took him to Planetary Defense workshop in 1995 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The workshop was co-chaired by Dr. Edward Teller ( father of hydrogen bomb } and Dr. Eugene Shoemaker (discoverer of short comet).
His interest in the future of defense industries attracted him to attend in 1996, the NATO Conference on defense industry conversion strategies at Perthshire of Scotland, UK in 1996.

Joe retired from Grumman on march 1, 1998. It had taken him more than fifteen years to acknowledge in this book that how lucky he had been .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491844953
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 02/14/2014
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

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Memoir of Lucky Joe

By Joseph H. Yang

AuthorHouse LLC

Copyright © 2014 Joseph H. Yang
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-4495-3


My First Decade in America

Student Visa

In order to get my student visa to enter the United States in 1960, I had to demonstrate to the US consulate in Taiwan that I was not going to become a financial burden to American society. For that reason, I had to produce a cashier's check issued to me by a bona fide US bank. Fortunately, my college schoolmate, Victor Tang, supplied me with one for $2,400 in January 1960, and I dutifully attached it to my visa application, as required. Without it, the door to America would have been tightly locked. That check was the key, a great and necessary help.

February 17, 1960

A new Northwest Airlines DC-6B passenger plane landed smoothly on the SEA-TAC Airport runway at 7:15 p.m. Seattle time, Feb 17, 1960. I was a passenger on that flight. Upon arrival, I was soon met by Victor and his housemates, Wen H. Chen and his brother Wen S. Chen. All three were graduate students at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. They took me to Seattle's Chinatown for a nice dinner and then to their apartment in the University District (U District) of Seattle. They treated me with utmost kindness and made me feel fully at home. I quietly returned the cashier's check to Victor with deep appreciation before I went to bed.

On that day, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had recently begun serving his last year as president of the United States with Richard M. Nixon as his vice president. John F. Kennedy was a US senator from Massachusetts. The two US senators from the state of Washington were both bachelors, Warren Magnuson and Scoop Jackson. The mayor of Seattle was a Mr. Roselini.

Flying from Taipei to Seattle cost me less than going by freighter from Taiwan to any American seaport because I purchased my ticket as a requisition clerk of the international air carrier CAT (then headquartered in Taipei).

The deep discount given to employees of members of the International Association of Air Carriers by every other member carrier is still in effect, I believe. Lucky me!

The next day it snowed in Seattle. It was cold for me, having just arrived from Taiwan.

Choosing Seattle as My First Base City

I stayed as a guest with Victor and the Chen brothers for about a week, which I always remember as the gift I needed most upon arriving in a foreign land. During that week, I had several conversations with Victor alone. He gave me some of his views on what my life in America could be and what my life would be like if I chose to stay in Seattle.

Though I already had received notice of admission to an MBA program at San Jose State, in California, for the fall semester beginning in September 1960, I decided to begin my adventure in America with Seattle as my first base city.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed snowy scenes on the UW campus and learned how to use the public transportation system for getting around in downtown Seattle from the U District and where to get my social security card.

With my social security card in hand, I visited a downtown employment agency and got my first job in America at Doctors Hospital of Seattle as an evening-shift janitor, which paid $1.50 an hour. In the spirit of thanksgiving, I gave my first $10 to the Catholic church in the U District.

I learned that one's social security number (SSN) is the account number that the US government uses to keep record of one's income from all legal American employers. It is also the number with which one can receive social security benefits when one is injured on the job or reaches retirement at age sixty-five.

Switching My Field of Study

In the 1960s, mostly influenced by employment opportunities, many Taiwanese college graduate students in America (except those in science and engineering fields) elected to switch their studies from English to librarianship, from law to computer science, or from cost accounting to actuarial science. Most of them did well in their newly chosen fields. So I did not feel at risk in changing to any new program that would accept me. I felt confident that I could average a B+ in any field if I worked seriously, and I was ready to work seriously. This determination and confidence came from years of indoctrination by my parents. As the eldest of four boys in my family, I had always been drilled by my mother to set a good example for my younger brothers. My father wanted me to maintain good discipline in my learning exploration wherever and whatever I should be learning, wherever and whatever I should be and become, similar to his journey in life.

On my forty-ninth birthday, in 1983, my father composed a sixty-four-word poem to acknowledge his satisfaction with my unpredictable avocations and different postings.

Within eight days after my arrival, I began to put together, with Victor as my consultant, my future work-study plan in the United States. My first goal was to earn, as soon as possible, a graduate degree in a technical field that would be in high demand in America, at least as far as we could then imagine.

Technical Schools in Seattle

In the greater Seattle area, there were four schools of higher learning in 1960: the University of Washington (UW), Seattle University (SU), Christian Pacific College of Seattle, and Addison Technical institute of Seattle. Victor recommended that I should first visit Seattle University, a Jesuit school. I was met there by Reverend Francis Wood when I visited SU shortly thereafter. After listening to my plan and my financial condition at that moment, Fr. Wood suggested that I should be a transfer student in the Electrical Engineering (EE) Department of SU. I was admitted on the spot and could begin in the fall quarter in September 1960, as he was head of EE department of SU. He was a good professor of control systems and became my career advisor too. He made sure that I would take courses relevant to getting into graduate school. Only one course that I took on the SU campus was not on his recommended list—Opera Appreciation—which first introduced me to the well-known operas of Verdi of Italy, Wagner of Germany, and Bizet of France, which I have enjoyed ever since.

Jobs before the Fall Quarter Began in September 1960

Virginia Mason Hospital

Three months after beginning my night shift job at Doctors Hospital, I started working as a daytime janitor at Virginia Mason Hospital (VM), which was a few blocks away from the SU campus.

About a month later, I caught a slight cold but went to work in the hospital as usual. While on the job, Dr. Shelby, a young friendly intern at the hospital, noticed that I was a little out of sorts and decided to look under my eyelids. Within five minutes, I was put in an isolation room. There I spent two days in the intensive care unit (ICU). For the next forty-eight hours I was confined to bed, and all visitors had to wear special gowns to enter my room.

Every four hours I was examined by at least two different doctors; my blood was drawn, and I was wheeled to the x-ray room for diagnostic updates. At the end of two days, the hospital could not determine what was wrong with me. In the meantime, my cold was completely over and gone. I was fine but was forced to lie in bed, wondering what had happened to me.

On the third day in bed, a US Navy doctor working in the Western Pacific Tropic Disease Research Institute was invited to take look at me. An hour later I was released from the hospital as a healthy person. "Why then all the fuss about me?" I inquired.

It turned out that hepatitis C was a highly feared disease in America during that period. I was suspected of being a hepatitis C carrier.

Hepatitis C is a painless cancerous virus found in human blood. It causes the invaded human to exhibit jaundice (French for yellow color) in the whites of the eyes. Healthy Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans) usually exhibit a mild yellow color on the whites of their eyes as compared to European Caucasians. The Navy doctor told the VM doctors of this fact, and I was given a clean bill of health to go back to work.

I still remember that my hospital bill for those three days was eighty-three dollars.

A Member of the AFL-CIO

During the summer of 1961, Victor recommended me for a union job as a member of the night-shift maintenance crew at the Northern Life building in downtown Seattle. For that job, I joined the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), then the largest labor union in America. George Meany was president of the AFL-CIO. I was properly initiated at the downtown union hall. My pay was raised to $1.78 an hour with medical benefits and two weeks of paid vacation a year. This salary sounds minuscule now, but the purchasing power of the dollar was so much more than it is presently that even after paying my tuition and room and board while attending SU and paying for my other needs, I was in a position to start sending money periodically to my parents in Taiwan and show them that I was surviving well enough in America.

Boeing and Teaching Assistantship

At SU, John Madden was my teammate for physics laboratory work. He was also a technician at the Renton plant of Boeing Aircraft Company. John introduced me to his boss there and helped me get hired in the fall of 1962 as a laboratory assistant at Boeing's design simulation facility. This working experience at Boeing was a great break for me professionally.

Those were the days when vacuum tubes were in most major measuring instruments. The simulation of the dynamics of a flight equation was done with analog (not yet digital) computers. My work assignment included zeroing (balancing) 128 vacuum-tube-based operational amplifiers of one analog computer system prior to each run of the simulation system. Nearly half of the engineers in the department where I worked were immigrants, most of them from European countries. Others were from Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, or Purdue. Those schools were well known in the United States for their aeronautical engineering departments.

The pay and experience that I received at Boeing provided me with a good enough life and helped me keep my grades sufficiently high at SU. I was elected a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, an honorary mathematics fraternity, rather unexpectedly.

In the spring of 1963, I applied for and received a teaching assistantship from the EE Department of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I thought of Mr. Fessler of Time magazine (mentioned in the introduction) when I got this work-study offer.

Johns Hopkins University

I first learned about Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in a speech delivered by Dr. S. Z. Hu in 1953 at National Taiwan University (NTU or TaiDa). Dr. Hu was the Chinese ambassador to the United States during WWII and the president of Beijing University from 1946 to 1948.

Dr. Hu described in vivid terms how Baltimore's city fathers hired Dr. Daniel C. Gilman in 1875 to create a university that had to have a teaching hospital in Baltimore. It was to be completed within twelve months and was not to exceed US $7,000,000.00 in cost. A time limit of one year was specified in the will of Mr. Hopkins, sole donor of the university project. Johns Hopkins University was thus established in 1876. This institution has been famous for its emphasis on graduate schools and for the achievements of Johns Hopkins Hospital. It also has a quality publishing house.

In 1963, Dr. Milton Eisenhower, the youngest brother of US president Eisenhower, was president of JHU. I had read two of Dr. Eisenhower's books: The President Is Calling and Blood Is Thicker than Wine.

I was very happy to be accepted by Johns Hopkins University.

Precious Hopkins Years

The Hopkins teaching assistantship not only gave me a stipend of $180 a month but also permitted me to take any course that was offered on the Homewood campus, free of charge. The rent for my furnished apartment was $12 per week.

Hopkins had always had a local host family program to help foreign students, researchers, and visiting professors adjust socially and culturally in Baltimore. I learned that nearly 30 percent of the graduate students and research staff at Hopkins were from overseas.

The Powells of Ruxton, MD, (Arthur and Betty and their five children) were my Hopkins-arranged host family, and I stayed with them for a week after my arrival in Baltimore. This Roman Catholic family was sincerely hospitable and helped me get oriented on campus and in the city of Baltimore. Their children's grandmother, Betty's mother, a French lady of great taste, also gave me several valuable tips on American social customs.

Hopkins Faculty Club

As a teaching assistant (TA), I was assigned to teach the computer language IBM FORTAN IV class to sophomore engineering students as a noncredit course. I first met Percy Pierre at a meeting of teaching assistants. He and I both reported to Professor William H. Huggins. I worked hard and received top ratings from the students I tutored as being a responsive TA. During the second semester I was a TA to Dr. Huggins for his course Introduction to Systems Theory and TA to Dr. Larry Grayson for his course Control Systems.

In January 1965, after three semesters at Hopkins, Dr. Ferdinand Hamburger, EE department chairman, asked me to be the Instructor of Energy Conversion and Control Systems in the Hopkins evening school, beginning in the fall semester of 1965. I would be paid $5,300 a year as part-time instructor, and I also was given a membership to the Hopkins Faculty Club.

Wedding Bells

In 1964, I met and fell in love with my future wife, Adrienne Jane Nogic, at a square dance on the Hopkins campus. She was a unique Goucher College student: self-confident and independent minded. She loved classical music and was majoring in mathematics. Like myself, she also had three younger brothers. Her father was from the University of Chicago campus of the late 1930s and was open-minded and loved to debate political issues; he was the ultimate gentleman. Her mother was a top graduate of her high school, smart, and a quiet reader of classics. Both of them received me graciously at our first dinner meeting in Kingsville, Maryland. Adrienne and I were married at Baltimore's Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in August of 1965. My host family, the Powells, represented my parents at the wedding. My brother Tom was my best man. My classmate from Taiwan, Victor Tang, and his wife, Susan, graciously came from California to be at my wedding. My Hopkins classmate Steve Cantor of Boston made arrangement for Adrienne and me to have our honeymoon on Cape Cod. Steve picked us up from Logan Airport and drove us to Falmouth. We had a good time on Cape Cod and visited Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard as well.

Steve Cantor

Steve did another great favor for my family. He solved my brother Arthur's visa problem.

My brother Arthur had received a fellowship to attend Michigan State University beginning in the fall of 1966. In mid-August of that year, Arthur was denied a student visa to enter the United States by the American consulate in Taipei. The reason was given orally (no written record) by an American vice consul at Arthur's application interview. The vice consul told Arthur that his brother Joe (i.e., me) should return to Taiwan first before he could have his student visa.

When Steve Cantor heard this story about Arthur's difficulty he called Senator Ted Kennedy's office in Boston for advice. Three days later, my brother Arthur was contacted by the same US consulate and was given his student visa without any question.

This particular reversal of a decision by a US consulate (in my opinion) was a direct result of a wireless message to the US chargé d'affaires in Taipei. The message explicitly expressed Senator Kennedy's interest in Arthur Yang's timely arrival at Michigan State University for the fall semester of 1966.

This was the first political lesson I learned regarding American democracy in action. Senator Kennedy's constituency service could reach even to future voting families outside his Commonwealth of Massachusetts. My family and I owe Steve a lot for what his senator's office did for my brother Arthur.

Percy A. Pierre, Stephen S. Wolff, and Ferdinand Hamburger

During my first two years as a graduate student at Hopkins, Percy Pierre and I shared a large study room on the ground floor of Ames Hall on the Hopkins campus. We became study-mates first and very close friends in later years. He became the second of the four most important friends of mine in the next thirty-five years of working in America (as detailed in chapters 2, 3, and 4).

My PhD dissertation was done under the guidance of Dr. Stephen S. Wolff, a very sharp intellect and sportsman from Swarthmore College and a PhD in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Without his patient guidance I might still be an ABD (all but dissertation) graduate student.


Excerpted from Memoir of Lucky Joe by Joseph H. Yang. Copyright © 2014 Joseph H. Yang. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 My First Decade in America, 1,
Chapter 2 The US Navy and the US Department of HEW, 11,
Chapter 3 Hawaii and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, 32,
Chapter 4 The Pentagon Years, 44,
Chapter 5 First Tour of the American Military-Industrial Complex, 66,
Chapter 6 Success, Failure, and Back to (W), 80,
Chapter 7 Last Trips for Westinghouse, 90,
Chapter 8 Last Frontiers, 104,

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