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Linying Gong still hasn’t gotten used to people calling her captain and she still has a hard time fastening the new shield to her uniform, but her family and co−workers agree, no one is more deserving of the post.
“We’re very proud of her and all that she’s accomplished,” said Auxiliary Police Chief Anthony Christo. “She’s supportive and helpful to everyone.”
Gong, a 35−year veteran of the force, rose through the ranks to become the first female Asian Auxiliary Captain in the city of New York.
“I don’t see myself so much as being Asian as I do being American,” she said. “But hopefully I’ll be a role model and more Asians will join up.”
Throughout her career, Gong has worked as part of the auxiliary force at precincts throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 1996, she joined the 68th Precinct, which serves Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton, before switching to Brooklyn Borough South in 2003, where she now acts as the extended eyes and ears for 13 local precincts.
As she stood outside her Shore Road apartment enjoying the spring weather, Gong reflected on what Brooklyn means to her. “I really appreciate the ethnic diversity that exists here,” she said. “The people are so interesting and each of them has something to contribute so we all learn from each other.”
During her leisure time, Gong takes in all the local sites and attractions from strolling through the Botanic Garden and Prospect Park to visiting the aquarium and grabbing a hot dog at Coney Island.
“I love Brooklyn,” she declared.
Gong, 60, is of Chinese descent but she was born in and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin along with her four brothers and three sisters. Gong recalled that for a long time, she and her family were the only Asians living in the predominantly Polish and German community.
“It wasn’t tremendously bad for me,” she said. “I was a teacher’s pet. I enjoyed school and I had a lot of friends.”
Even though she was different, Gong never let anyone push her around.
“One time these older kids stole our little red wagon,” she explained. “I don’t remember if he swung at me but I ended up chasing him two or three blocks and beating him up.”
Later in life, Gong found other ways to fight back. After her parent’s stationery store was robbed, she joined the auxiliary police so that she could play a more active role in the community.
“I think when I was younger I was so sheltered that I didn’t know what was going on out in the real world,” she said. “When you are on patrol and you see different kinds of ethnic groups and different things happening, it really becomes an educational experience.”
During her time on the beat, Gong has seen fires, traffic accidents, and even a plane crash, but nothing could prepare her for the personal tragedy she would have to face next.
Two years ago, Gong was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
“It was a shock, but the only thing I could do was try to deal with it,” she said. “I was getting some bleeding but otherwise I felt good. It was in its beginning stages, so I decided I was going to fight it.”
Throughout her life, Gong had enjoyed a number of sports including scuba diving, squash, and tennis. As her health declined, she began pursuing less strenuous activities like knitting. She has also given up commuting to her day job as a senior technical support engineer at Oracle, and now performs her duties from home.
Gong is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and must have weekly blood transfusions. She credits her life partner of 27 years, Alan Clark, with giving her the strength to get through this difficult time.
Despite the pain and discomfort she must endure everyday, Gong maintains a positive attitude and friendly disposition that serve as an inspiration to everyone she meets.
“I try to conduct myself ethically and morally and hold high standards,” she said. “I’ve always been a goody−goody and I hope that rubs off on other people.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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