A life for life

Listening to my elders sharing their war stories fascinates me. Not that I enjoy knowing the gory details but understanding how they came to live a full life after the war.

My Uncle “Tito Jess” is the best story-teller, ever.

In my previous post Love and Valor, Tito Jess shared how he and his brother hid an American soldier from the Japanese. The Japanese found this out, took his brother to extract information where they were hiding the American. They will release his brother in exchange for the American. A life for a life.

When it comes to war, one has to be aware who is your friend and who is your enemy.  The enemies are the Japanese, the Americans are the heroes, and Filipinos are the oppressed.

The story becomes confusing when one of the supposedly enemy, a Japanese officer, became a friend and the enemy is a Filipino informant.

When I questioned Tito Jess how another Filipino could become an informant and turned his brother to the Japanese?  Being a very religious person, his response is that the full story belongs to God, as it was and ever shall be part of a Divine plan.

The friendly Japanese officer became the link between him and his brother. The officer provided information how his brother was doing inside the prison and the runner for bringing notes between his brother and his family.

That “enemy” officer was Major Seiji Kinoshita. Before the war, Mr. Kinoshita had studied at Stanford University in California. His profound sense of humanity had nothing to do with war or nationality.  Tito Jess kept in touch with Mr. Kinoshita long after the end of the war. In 1956, Tito Jess visited Mr. Kinoshita in Japan.

The story did not end here. What happened to the American soldier?

Tito Jess’s brother disguised the soldier as a priest and transported him to the city outskirts. From there, the soldier led the Filipino-American underground movement that fought Japan’s occupation until war came to an end. His name was James W. Carrington, he was a Marine.

That was year 1944.

Fast forward, Tito Jess and his family moved to Canada and lived a good life with three children. When his children were older, my cousin Val helped him find what happened to Mr. Carrington. Lo and behold, they found him living in a nursing home in Destrehan, Louisiana.

Photo by Jennifer Zdon (NO:LA) Click on the photo to watch the reunion

Photo by Jennifer Zdon (NOLA)   Click on the photo to watch the reunion

The whole historical event unfolds when these two men were reunited 65 years later. Both were crying with joy. Tito Jess is very glad that he was able to help save Mr. Carrington‘s life even though he lost a brother; no regrets. James Carrington died 12 days later.

The National WWII Museum kept an oral record of Jesus Gonzales on-line.

On all sides of war, there is treachery and kindness, betrayal and forgiveness, sacrifice and survival, and war and times of peacefulness. This could be the answer to the parable Tito Jess is talking about that it’s all part of a Divine plan.

My cousin Val is writing a historical novel and digging through annals of historical events hoping maybe one day she will find out as to what happened to Tito Jess’ brother.

In the meantime, I will continue to listen to more stories from the very few elders left in our clan and share this story to the younger generations. I will dream, pray and hope that we all learned from the first two world wars and current wars in other parts of the world would ceased.

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