MAY 13, 2014

Behind Retired Green Beret Gene Yu's Heroic 2013 Unsanctioned Rescue of a Taiwanese Woman from Abu Sayyaf Terrorists in the Jungles of the Philippines

member interview   |   By Privy Editor

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Based in: Taiwan

Last Education: West Point

We recently sat down with Privy member and Retired Green Beret Gene Yu who has an impressive pedigree and a very diverse resume. The Asian-American nephew of the President of Taiwan recently led a 12-member mercenary group composed of Filipino special forces to successfully rescue a Taiwanese woman who had been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Malaysia and taken to a jungle base camp in southern Philippines. And that’s just the most recent adventure for the world traveler.

Yu’s roots are in Northern California, but now he says that home is where he stashes his underwear—whether it’s his current residence in Asia or in a suitcase while he explores South America. From his military training to his wide array of interests and hobbies, there’s nothing ordinary about the man who used his connections to help free a Chinese tourist abducted in Malaysia.

Now that Evelyn Chang is safe and sound, Yu is working on a book about the experience. In addition, he is also working as the Director of Channels at Perx, Singapore’s #1 loyalty card mobile application company, in addition to promoting his MMA apparel line. There’s not many pies this Renaissance Man doesn’t have a finger in.




Can you tell us about your role in how you helped to rescue Chang An-wei in 2013 from the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group?


Coincidentally, I was visiting Taipei, Taiwan, promoting the launch of the Chinese version of my semi-fictional books that describe humorous stories from my time as an Asian-American U.S. Army Special Forces officer, called Yellow Green Beret: Stories of an Asian-American Stumbling Through U.S. Army Special Forces. Repeatedly during interviews with Taiwan media, I was asked my opinion on the matter as I had successfully conducted three out of four hostage rescue missions in Baghdad (2009), and I had coordinated over 5000 Filipino Marines and soldiers to attack an Abu Sayyaf base (2006). Based on the questions asked by numerous Taiwanese I encountered, even a basic understanding of the Philippines seemed to be lacking by most Taiwanese. My mother informed me that the sister of Evelyn Chang, Angela Chang, was actually her close friend from high school, so I volunteered to provide advice and context to the victim’s family on the Abu Sayyaf from my two tours in the southern Philippines as a Green Beret.




Can you talk about why the Abu Sayyaf group who kidnapped Chang An-wei decided to negotiate with you? And how does one negotiate with terrorists?


I opened up a channel of communication via Filipino special operators posing as Chang family friends to negotiate ransom pricing. This is the only way to bring them to the table, as in Evelyn’s case, this was the Abu Sayyaf’s stated objective.




What was your experience like in the Special Forces as an Asian American? Did you face additional obstacles or discrimination in any way?


In the Army, whenever people debated at meetings, sometimes I would use the stereotype of Asians being

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