How do You Deal with Grief?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Did you ever lose a loved one? I lost two within six months of each other – my mother in November 2019 and my husband in May 2020.

My mother’s passing in the Philippines was devastating to me. I could not attend her funeral because my husband was nearing death himself. I could not leave him. My mother’s 1st death anniversary is coming soon in two weeks, and it brings tears to my eyes in unexpected moments. Now that I can go, the pandemic prevents me from going to visit her grave in the Philippines.

When my husband died, I always thought I was ready for the inevitable since he was very sick for five years. I found out it was not that easy.

After his death, there were so many things I had to deal with. I kept myself busy organizing the house to where it was before his illness. Then I had to deal with all the paperwork concerning social security, his will, and other tax and financial matters. For a while, I trudged along.

I started editing my old manuscript to keep me busy – the last one I did for the NaNoWriMo in 2017. After I was done with it, I asked an old friend to help me read it and see what he thinks of it. That helps tremendously. If you are reading this, BP, thank you very much, and I mean it sincerely. I joined the NaNoWriMo again this November to give me something to do.

When my husband got sick, I slowly abandoned all my charity work and devoted myself to taking care of him. He was my charity.

When he became bedridden, I didn’t go anywhere because I could not leave him alone. I worked doubly hard as a caregiver.

When he died in May this year, we were already into the pandemic, and social distancing was already the norm. So I continued isolating myself. I’m so used to it that it did not bother me initially, but I believe deep down, it did.

I tried listening to music, mostly classical and ballads, when I’m alone. It soothes my soul and helps me cope with my grief. I even started to teach myself how to play the piano again. It helps a little bit. Music is a great equalizer.

I don’t know what happened to me yesterday and today. I could not stop crying. I have not cried this hard since the funeral parlor’s people took my husband’s body away for cremation, and I said my final farewell. I could not even go to the funeral parlor because of the Covid-19 restriction.

All these months, I thought I’m fine, but I guess not. It was all bottled up inside me.

I don’t know what hits me this week. I feel miserable, and yesterday and today were the worst.

I don’t know if it is the pandemic, the election, the veterans’ day, or just being alone and isolated for almost six years. Maybe it’s a combination of everything around me. Most likely, it’s my mother’s death anniversary causing it. I miss her terribly.

I feel all alone all of a sudden. Yes, my son is in residence, but he works all day. Maybe I need someone to talk to besides Skipper, my son’s dog, and a shoulder to cry on.

Usually, I keep my feelings to myself. Today, I feel a need to share it and get it off my chest. It helps ease the pain.

Thank you for reading.

Veterans Day 2020 Remembrance and Gratitude

A wonderful post remembering those who served our country. Freedom is not free!

Pacific Paratrooper

My post for this Veterans Day is dedicated to Sgt. Walter Morgan Bryant Jr., USMC; R.I.P my dear friend!

… there is an old Marine poem… it says: ‘When I get to heaven, To St. Peter I will tell, Another Marine reporting sir, I’ve served my time in hell.”         ______ Eugene Sledge, USMC veteran of Peleliu & Okinawa

For the U.S. Marine Birthday, 10 November – CLICK HERE!!

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many Pilots’ planes shot down?
How…

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Pacific War Trials – part two

Pacific Paratrooper

Courtroom spectators, Manila

The Allies also established the United Nations War Crimes Commission (the UNWCC) in 1943.  The UNWCC collected evidence on Axis war crimes and drew up lists of suspected war criminals for Allied prosecution after the war.  In 1944, a sub-commission of the UNWCC was established in Chungking to focus on the investigation of Japanese atrocities.

The major trials being held in Tokyo were presided by the U.S., Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, France, China and the Philippines and began in May 1946. General MacArthur, as supreme commander of the Allied powers, largely controlled the progress of the trials. They started with 25 defendants, but two passed away during the proceedings and another was evaluated as too mentally deficient to participate.

Hideki Tojo listening to testimonies.

Hideki Tojo was the most infamous face to symbolize Japanese aggression being that he was the Prime Minister at the time of Pearl…

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Batangas Province During The Spanish Regime

Batangas is always home to me.

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Map of Batangas Province – Photo Credit – Wikipedia by Roel Balingit

Large centers of population already thrived in Batangas before the Spaniards arrived. Native settlements lined the Pansipit River, a major waterway near Taal Lake.

Batangas first came to be known as Bombon. It was named after Taal Lake, which was also originally called Bombon. Some of the earliest settlements in Batangas were established in the vicinity of Taal Lake.

In 1570, an expedition led by Spanish conquistadores Juan de Salcedo and Martin de Goiti explored the coast of Batangas on the way from Panay to Manila. Salcedo was wounded in the foot by a poisoned arrow during a skirmish with the natives on the Pansipit River. However, the Bombon inhabitants were easily subdued. As Jose Rizal pointed out, “The people, accustomed to the yoke, did not defend their chiefs from the invader. . . The nobles, accustomed to…

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Lucky 666 – The Story of the Longest Continuous Dogfight in the Annals of USAAF History

Most WWII books are written about the European Theatre, but few are written about the war that took place in the South Pacific. With most attention given to the European Theater, it is great to see books written about the forgotten men not only fighting the Japanese aggression in the Pacific but also constant typhoons, inhospitable terrain, heat, diseases from the jungle, malaria-causing mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, unfriendly tribes and not enough men, food, supplies, and equipment. Overshadowed by the heroics of the 8th Air Force fighting in Europe, the men of the 5th Air Force had to make do with what little aircraft and spares were eked out to them to stop the Japanese quest to control southeast Asia and the Pacific.

I’m always on the lookout for WWII books about the Pacific Theater. Lucky 666 by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin is the true story of one of the most important air reconnaissance missions of World War II. The book started slow by talking about the crew’s childhood and their lives. This backstory helps to figure out why they made the choices they did. From childhood, Capt. Jay Zeamer and his bombardier, Joe Sarnoski, looked up at the sky and dreamed of flying and commanding some of the most advanced planes of their time.

Zeamer was always a rebel and a maverick and wanted to do things his way. When confronted with any challenge in his life, from elementary school through his time in the USAAF, Jay Zeamer found a way around it with ingenuity, knowledge, and unstinting effort. He was always willing to take on any job or mission that others avoided if he could do it his way.

The book also chronicles in large part the initial U.S./Allied air campaign and military strategy, the generals, aircrews, and other battles against Japan in the South Pacific. It helps set up the background of the long march of island hopping to start the defeat of Japan’s aggression.

Lucky 666 is about pilot Capt. Jay Zeamer judged to be a misfit by his superiors and bombardier Sergeant Joseph Raymond Sarnoski and their crew of misfits of the 43rd Bomber Group of the Army Air Force. They were denied their own plane but wanted to fly, so they rebuilt a dilapidated B-17 bomber from spare parts in the base junkyard. Its tail identification numbers end in 666, so they named it Old 666 and transformed it into a true Flying Fortress equipped with the best guns to survive a dangerous reconnaissance mission.

In 1942, the Japanese war machine had rolled up nearly all of the Pacific Theater, and the American forces were clinging to what little unconquered territory remained. Following the capture of Guadalcanal, Americans prepared to invade Bouganville, but very little was known about this island’s defenses, so U.S. forces planned a reconnaissance mission.

Toward the end of May 1943, Jay Zeamer found out that the 43rd headquarters needed volunteers to do the most dangerous reconnaissance mission, photo mapping over Bougainville Island. Nobody wanted the mission but Zeamer sensed an opportunity. Zeamer explained the situation to his “Eager Beavers” who all agreed to do it. On June 16, 1943, Zeamer and Sarnoski and their crew, against overwhelming odds, went on an incredible 1200-mile solo suicide mission and brought back films of hidden reefs off Buka and enemy defenses in Bougainville Island. Their successful mission laid the groundwork for the next offensive and changed the momentum of the War in the Pacific. Their sacrifice and bravery saved the lives of many Marines who would safely pass those reefs and eventually capture those islands critical to victory.

The narration of the flight comes near the end of the book. It is a gripping account of the longest continuous dogfight in the annals of the U. S. Army Air Force history lasting about 40 minutes, with one B-17 against as many as 30 Japanese fighter planes. Luckily, Old 666 was the most heavily armed B-17 bomber of the war. They made a crash landing back with crippling damage to the aircraft and wounded crew members, and one dead – Sarnoski, who was supposed to go back to Washington in the last week of June but decided to go on one more mission with the crew before heading back home. The plane received 187 bullet holes and five cannon holes, but it still landed. The film was developed, and the photos were invaluable to Adm. Halsey and his invasion planners.

The mission won pilot Jay Zeamer and bombardier Joe Sarnoski who died on the mission, our country’s highest honor – Medal of Honor. It is the most highly decorated bomber crew in the history of U.S. military service. The mission resulted in every crew member earning the Silver Stars, Distinguished Service Crosses, Purple Hearts, and two Medal of Honor. The single bomber shot down several enemy fighters. According to the Far East Air Chief at the time, General George Kenney, “Jay Zeamer and his crew performed a mission that still stands out in my mind as an epic of courage unequaled in the annals of air warfare.”

Lucky 666 is an inspiring WWII story of bravery, duty, and heroism. It is also a tale of leadership, friendship, and sacrifice set against the horrific backdrop of dangerous aerial warfare, wounded crewmates, and a pulse-pounding emergency landing in the jungles of New Guinea. It’s a shame that the suffering, devotion, and sacrifice made by the men in the Pacific is not widely known.

I close with this quote from Jay Seamer: “You can always find a way to do anything you want if you are dead set on doing it, come hell or high ack-ack.”

The Provisional Recon Platoon – Spearhead of the Los Banos Raid

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Terry Santos – Photo Credit – The History Channel

I was just reading Pacific Paratrooper’s blog by GP Cox when I saw the farewell salutes. One of them is Terry Santos. I remember the name from the Los Baños rescue mission. I searched my archives and I saw this article by Terry Santos himself about that raid. I’m reprinting it in his memory.

Two major battlefield events took place in the Pacific during the month of February 1945. The first, and most publicized, was the invasion of Iwo Jima by the U.S. Marine Corps and the subsequent raising of the American Flag on top of Mount Suribachi on February 23rd. The second less known and less publicized action, took place at an internment camp near Los Banos, Luzon, in the Philippine Islands. In as much as this memorable event may have been underpublicized, or even overlooked by historians, it was…

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9-11-2001 – “To remember, lest we forget.”

A replica of the New York Twin Towers at my home.


On September 11, 2001, an evil force struck the heart of New Yorkers and all mankind for that matter. There isn’t an American who is not affected by it. Everyone who died in that tragedy left someone behind who loved them.

Show respect for police officers and firefighters.

Remember 9-11. 

Sept. 2, 1945

Seventy-five years ago today, Japan surrenders, bringing an end to WWII. This post was originally posted at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/japan-surrenders

Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri as General Richard K. Sutherland watches, September 2, 1945 – Photo Credit: Army Signal Corps photographer LT. Stephen E. Korpanty – Naval Historical Center 

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II.

By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated. At the end of June, the Americans captured Okinawa, a Japanese island from which the Allies could launch an invasion of the main Japanese home islands. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the invasion, which was code-named “Operation Olympic” and set for November 1945.

The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply would mean “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.” On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was “paying no attention” to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on August 6, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.

After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On August 8, Japan’s desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki.

READ MORE: Hiroshima, Then Nagasaki: Why the US Deployed the Second A-Bomb

Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration “with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler.” The council obeyed Hirohito’s acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.

Early on August 12, the United States answered that “the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” After two days of debate about what this statement implied, Emperor Hirohito brushed the nuances in the text aside and declared that peace was preferable to destruction. He ordered the Japanese government to prepare a text accepting surrender.

In the early hours of August 15, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In his unfamiliar court language, he told his subjects, “we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” The United States immediately accepted Japan’s surrender.

WATCH: Japan Surrenders 

President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan’s formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state. MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive.

On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.” Ten more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.

Food for Thought – Why the Philippines have Ineffective Government Leadership

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Ayala Avenue, Makati
Photo Credit – Patrickroque01@English Wikipedia

A friend of mine, Benjamin R. Punongbayan, the founder of Punongbayan and Araullo, one of the largest accounting firms in the Philippines and founder of Buklod National Political Party, spoke at a virtual book launching event recently. He gave some insights on why the Philippines have an ineffective government leadership.

The Philippine government, being run by mostly the oligarchs of the country, is part of the problem. Ben Punongbayan, in his speech, offers some suggestions on how to fix the country’s problems. For those who still maintain ties with the Philippines, you’ll find his solutions commendable. Time will tell whether he is right in his vision for the country.

Poverty in the Philippines – Photo Credit – Phil. Star

Since I have been out of the country for so long, I have to admit that I have no idea about…

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National Aviation Day – Aug. 19, 2020

B-17 Chino Air Show 2014 – Photo Credit – Wikimedia

This poem is part of “We Swoop at Dawn” and written by a pilot from Jay Zeamer’s old 22nd Bomb Group. The poem had been copied and passed around to airmen in theater, many of whom flew with it stuffed into a pocket of their boilersuits. The poem went on for 18 more stanzas and included the line “We’ll all go to town and get drunk as a skunk.”

No matter how many missions a man may fly,

He never gets over being afraid to die.

It’s a funny feeling, hard to explain,

You tighten all up from your toes to your brain

Your stomach’s all empty, and your face feels drawn.

When you hear the old cry, “WE SWOOP AT DAWN.”

But the men who went out into the morning cold

Thought not of medals and heroes bold.

Most likely they thought of their girls and their homes

And the hell they’d give those yellow gnomes

For causing the war, the pain, and the strife,

And for taking away the best years of their life.

I salute all the airmen past and present! You did a wonderful service to our country.

You can read the complete poem at International Historical Research Associates. Here is the link.

https://airwarworldwar2.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/we-swoop-at-dawn/