Feature: US war veteran longs for Dagupan
Dagupan City (19 February) -- An ailing American veteran is yearning for another glimpse of the city of his youth even just through pictures.
This after surviving Filipino-American veterans and their families rejoiced after scoring a historic victory with the approval of wartime services compensation under the $897 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by US President Barrack Obama,
Halfway across the world, John Bennett --now frail and old at 86 --- wrote thru his son Mark an impassioned plea to Dagupan city for a photograph of the old railroad yard at the former Philippine National Railway station here where his father once fought against an armed Japanese soldier, almost losing his life.
"I know this is an unusual request from a stranger halfway across the world, but do you have any pictures of Dagupan in 1945, in particular the railroad yard at that time?" Mark wrote in behalf of his father in an email to the Dagupan City Information Office.
The young Bennett said his father grew up in a small town in rural New York, which was also a railroad town like Dagupan, and was troubled by the coincidence.
He related his father was in combat at a railroad yard at the old Philippine National Railways station in Dagupan and killed a Japanese soldier on March 21, 1945, to protect a fellow Infantry combatant veteran.
The younger Bennett wrote it was a story his father never talked about for 63 years until last year when he related his wartime services. The elder Bennett, a Private First Class in the 130th Infantry 33rd Division of the US Army serving in the Philippines, was a truck driver during his stint in the city after the Luzon Landings.
He said his father placed himself between his fellow soldiers and a Japanese soldier who was firing on them. He said the family had kept the battle knife he used to slay the enemy.
The younger Bennett is doing a research for his father's service in the US Army to earn for him the Bronze Star for heroic action. He said no one filled out a report on the incident and his father could no longer recall names of people he met during the war.
Aside from the battle knife, another piece of evidence is an original letter his father sent to his mother describing the incident with postmark indicating time and place as well as his father's "testimony".
In another email excerpt, he said "it might carry some weight if I could have independent confirmation that indeed there were enemy soldiers present at the rail yard that day." (PIA Pangasinan/CIO) [top]