Celebrating the life of Chheng Kham
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He was born in the town of Moueng Russey, in Battambang Province, Cambodia, on January 10, 1935 to Ta Hum and Yay Reeh. He had an older sister and two younger half-brothers.
He finished high school in 1954, and around 1957, joined the Cambodian Navy where he worked hard and climbed to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade (Sak Pee in Khmer).
In 1961, he married his beautiful wife Sokan Thor and started a family in Phnom Penh and was based in a navy base in the Chroouy Jungva district. Around 1974, he was assigned to Malaysia, the Philippines and finally to the U.S. for military training. While training in the U.S., the communist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in April 1975, and started their brutal reign and genocide known as the Killings Fields. He decided to stay in the U.S. as a political refugee, because to go back to Cambodia to be with his family would be a death sentence for him as he fought for the Khmer Republic, who were non-communists. While in the U.S., he reunited and lived with his nephew, Daniel Chhang Marith and his family in Kelso, WA, who were also political refugees from the communist Khmer Rouge.
Starting his life over in Kelso, he started working as a dishwasher at Peter’s Restaurant and worked his way up by getting a new job as a machinist at Stowe Woodward (now known as Andritz-Xerium). While living in the Kelso-Longview area, he invested his time with his three grandnephews, the Marith boys, who greatly admired him. Spring of 1981, he reunited with his family who survived the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields of Cambodia. In 1982, they then moved to Chicago, Illinois and finally to Orlando, Florida where he worked at Epcot then as a machinist at Daniels Manufacturing Corporation, manufacturing tools and parts for Aerospace electrical systems until his retirement in 2010.
He enjoyed reading, sightseeing, road trips, watching TV, playing the lottery and going to the casino. He’s survived by his beautiful wife, children and many beautiful grandchildren.
He will be honored on November 21, 2020 at Khmer Buddist Temple 2725 Zuni Rd, Saint Cloud, FL 34771 from 9am-1pm.
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