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November 18, 2013

The Ties That Bind

The projection of American military power across the seas creates a bond between two nations:

'I have an uncle there in the U.S. Can you help me to contact him?"

Trudoro Dado Tan is yelling this plea at the top of his voice, but it's nearly impossible to hear over the roar of the two MV-22 Osprey aircraft on the grass behind us. U.S. Marines have just arrived with large boxes marked "USAID" and "From the American People." Inside are woven-plastic tarps to serve as temporary shelters—the first relief supplies seen in this remote fishing town since Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall six days ago, bringing rain, rushing water and winds three times as strong as Hurricane Katrina's.

"I don't have a house—my house was blown down," Mr. Tan shouts. "We have no food, no shelter, no medicines. . . . There is no electricity here, no signal in the cell phone. Nothing. Nothing at all."

Tan's now-American uncle, it turns out, served in the United States Navy:

... Mr. Dado is explaining, in Filipino-accented English, how he joined the U.S. Navy in 1959, at age 24, having never seen America. "We didn't have to be U.S. citizens to join—that was quite a privilege for Filipinos," he says. Especially since in his childhood, "saying 'America' or 'USA' meant saying 'Oh, that's the one, that's the best.' " He was 7 when the Japanese bombed the Philippines in December 1941, and he got "candies and chocolate" from the U.S. troops who recovered the islands three years later.

After high school Mr. Dado "couldn't get a job in the Philippines" except as a messenger in Manila, "so I wrote a letter to the U.S. Navy at Sangley Point," a naval station outside the capital. A written test, a physical exam and a few weeks later he was off to basic training in San Diego, one of 10 Filipinos in a company of 60.

For the next two decades he was a U.S. Navy cook on land and at sea—at Pearl Harbor, Norfolk, the USS Fletcher and many other postings that he proudly rattles off (along with the alphanumeric abbreviation of each vessel). When North Vietnamese torpedo boats fatefully attacked U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964, Mr. Dado was there aboard a destroyer deployed from Subic Bay, in his native Philippines.

He retired in 1979, then worked security at a Virginia hospital where his Filipina wife worked as a nurse. Their four children include a son born at Pearl Harbor who earned a lieutenant rank in the U.S. Navy. And almost every year Mr. Dado traveled back to his now-stricken hometown.

Nice story. The blog princess was born in Subic Bay.

Posted by Cassandra at November 18, 2013 08:08 AM

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Very nice story. I wonder if he can find the Trolls on Stripper Poles bar.....CAPT Mike and CAPT Mongo might need (sober) directions.

Posted by: DL Sly at November 18, 2013 03:22 PM

And here I thought this was going to be a treatise on the loss of your trapese and disco ball.

Posted by: Snarkammando at November 18, 2013 05:07 PM

Sober? ;-)

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 19, 2013 09:51 AM

And here I thought this was going to be a treatise on the loss of your trapese and disco ball.

If only I were still that flexible (and energetic!) :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 19, 2013 09:57 AM

Hell, I'd never find it sober . . .

Posted by: CAPT Mike at November 20, 2013 02:14 AM