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Ann Seymour's Biography

Member Info

Sausalito CA
My husband's a neurosurgeou with great humanity and a sense of humor.
Mar 2008

Love, loss, and redemption form the basis of my fiction, but I like a light, funny, hip context. Love bad guys. Leave it to more profound writers to create saints. My father died a hero's death in World war II, and my husband, a neurosurgeon, suffered a stroke when he was 37.  We raised two daughters who married and produced three grandsons. Have worked for major newspapers and magazines for 25 years. Went to Stanford but mostly enjoyed life there.

I worked as an advisory board member at the San Francisco Writers Conference (2014), and as the GENTRY Advisory Board Member for GENTRY Philanthropy.org


Wallace Stegner, Tom Jenks

Upcoming Works

 I've Always Loved You WW2 in the Pacific by Ann Seymour "a very moving story" - Nien Cheng, author of Life and Death in Shanghai "By the time Annie's finished, her book will tell all. She's a born researcher." - Julian Wheeler, Captain in 1945 of the Mobile narrative non-fiction 292 pgs hardbound 9780915090822 pre-pub sale $27 free shipping buy now readings in 2010 Books Inc Opera Plaza, SF Book Passage Corte Madera Barnes&Noble Menlo Park Oakland The Author A student of Wallace Stegner at Stanford, and a feature writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Gentry, West Magazine (San Jose Mercury News) and fashionlines.com, Ann Seymour draws on her family history, letters, diaries, memories, extensive research and past headlines for this narrative of an American family on the West Coast, during the events of World War 2. The Reading Experience This narrative draws its strength from the contrast between the selfless sacrifice of war and the rosy self-interest of youth. The contrast of two families in two different worlds also comes into play, in the form of Western society versus the Imperial East. This is the story of a a hero who finds his fate on Valentine's Day 1945, written as a lifetime valentine by his daughter. Simply, this narrative tells how warriors' sacrifices impact those they love most. © 2009 firefallmedia.com Return to firefallmedia home page "I've Always Loved You," a true story of ww2 in the Pacific. Excerpts:December 7, 1941, Cayucos, Central California I didn’t understand. I was only four. Unaware that my life was reversing, like the tide before me, I played on the beach. The sun brightened the cloudless sky, turning it a silvered winter blue, perfect for Sunday, Daddy’s day off. As he and Mom raced to the sea, the foam slapped against the shore. One strap of her bathing suit slipped. In the water, she wrapped her arms around him, her neck pliant, her back limber. Despite the water’s chill, they rode the waves together. Dripping and sleek, Daddy waded out of the water. His black hair shone with a blue iridescence. He dropped a few steps behind Mom, and watched her hips sway as she walked. Slowly they crossed across the sand, their white stucco house perched on the succulent-covered bluff ahead of them. Relaxing on our picnic blanket, Mom examined her red fingernails for chips in the polish, and then turned over, the seawater glistening on her shoulders. With combs and hairpins, she tried in vain to tame her wild auburn hair. Untamed, her hair excited Daddy; it reminded him of women dancing in Old West cafes while patrons drank their whiskey. Her eyes were gray, pure gray - no little leopard spots of brown or hazel. I sat next to the blanket and began digging. Deliberate as a fern unfurling, Daddy smoothed oil on Mom’s slim back and khaki-freckled shoulders. “More on the right,” she said in her indolent voice. “That’s it . . . Up a little. To the left . . . Yes. I’ve got you pretty well trained.” “That’s because you reward me.” The tones of a warm youth flowed through his voice, and, moving his hand to the small of her back, he began to sing, “Mary—Helen, Mary—Helen, my own Mary—Helen,” to the tune of the UC Berkeley fight song. Daddy kneaded Mom’s shoulders, and then rolled over on his back. He winked at me. I knew what that wink meant: he loved me best. “Nap time,” Mom said, so I ran away from her, heading toward the sea. “Ann, come here this minute.” She caught up with me and grabbed my wrist. I had almost made it to the water. As we turned, an army officer appeared on the bluff. To me then that bluff rose immensely high, and the uniformed man seemed to tower up to the sky, looking down like a god in the corner of an old map, one who determined destinies at his pleasure. Actually, the bluff was quite small, but I had the perspective of the very young. “Captain Ribbel, the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor. Report for duty immediately!” Daddy quickly got to his feet, stood at attention in his bathing suit, and saluted the officer. “Darling - ” Mom touched her cheek with her fingers. “I have to get going, Sweetheart.” Her eyes welled up, but she said nothing more. He gave her a quick hug, patted me, and, in five or six strides, dashed up the bluff and disappeared into the house. She gathered up the picnic things and followed, shock slowing her walk. I trailed along after her, as the Pacific boomed and hissed. Oh, Daddy, Mom. I still can see their faces before he went overseas - innocent, brave, unknowing - see the way they leaned toward each other as they walked along in step - naïve and graceful. * * * Tokyo shook with victory celebrations, throbbed with music, with revelers who laughed and sang, with crowing roosters, and dogs barking enthusiastically under bobbing red paper lanterns. Gold banners fluttered, firecrackers popped. Women prepared white rice and red lobster symbolizing health and good fortune, and they flew victory kites with their children. Beyond a moat, beyond towers and high walls, Emperor Hirohito Yamato stood in the imperial palace and raised his hand in triumph. His narrow, chinless face broke into a smile. Most of his subjects believed that if they looked into that face, they would go blind, and viewed him as a divine being who lived above the clouds. A Darwinist, he saw himself more as the apogee of evolution. However, he realized that if others believed in his descent from Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, they would obey him unquestioningly, which simplified his life. When a conflict arose, he changed the subject to botany. “Lichen is an entanglement of fungus and photosynthetic symbion,” he would say, “usually green algae or cynobacteria.” Twenty minutes later, he would still be lecturing. No need to address the issues. His underlings were only shadows calling attention to themselves if they disagreed with their emperor. For years, he’d festered over the "sinister" Roosevelt’s "evil plots against Japan," regarding our Lend Lease program as blatant arming of Japan's enemies and his Two Ocean Diplomacy as a duplicitous euphemism for a spying operation. When FDR embargoed Japan’s oil and steel, a furious Hirohito decided to take action. Preaching surprise and secrecy, he selected a Sunday for the Pearl Harbor strike because he knew that we Americans like to relax on weekends. Had anyone in history made a better assessment? He doubted it. He celebrated his triumph with his wife, Nagako. Sure of her beauty, she walked with fluid movements, and her straight little toes charmed him. When they first met, she let him see the bones of her life, hear her voice with its haunting, wistful quality, as if she were ownerless, ready to devote herself to him. Soon she became his only confidante, and talking to her helped him find clear lines in a confusing world. After they married, everyone marveled that he did not also take a mistress, wanting only her. Now, while husband and wife toasted victory, Hirohito received a respectful cable from his ally, Adolph Hitler. The German chancellor congratulated the emperor and complimented his Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, which he said would terrorize the Pacific. He considered Americans too degenerate to win anything since the Civil War, when the "timid shopkeepers" of the North defeated the "once-proud plantation owners" of the South. Japan had nothing to fear from the Americans, most of whom were pacifists. The emperor seated himself at his desk, pulled a sheet of paper toward him, and picked up his pen. With pleasure, he wrote an official pronouncement: We, by the grace of heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the throne of a line unbroken for ages eternal, enjoin upon you, our loyal and brave subjects: We hereby declare war on the United States and the British Empire. * * * In Manila, church bells pealed good morning from cupolas, the sounds cresting, suspended, and six-inch long monkeys went swinging among the tall lilies as if they were trees. Janitors polished floors with banana leaves, chefs prepared sweets called bibingka, and women filled vases with purple frangipani. MacArthur heard about Pearl Harbor and immediately convened his advisors. General Richard Sutherland said they had to get the planes off the ground in Clark Field, and Joseph McMicking agreed. However, MacArthur said there was no hurry; the Japanese wouldn’t attack until January. Nine hours later, a bright flock of Japanese planes streaked across the Philippine sky and attacked Clark Field, where the US Pacific force of three—dozen B-17 bombers conveniently nestled wingtip to wingtip. Molten metal smoked on the airstrip as the lords of the rising sun flew back to their carriers, and terrified Filipinos ran for cover. After the attack, a collective anarchy grew as people shouted, “Los Japanese, they bomb, they bomb!” On December 22, the emperor’s finest invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon, and in no time, MacArthur's men beat a retreat to Bataan and Corregidor. Without adequate provisions, they soon began dying from starvation and malaria, as well as enemy firepower. General Jonathan Wainwright gave his utmost, fighting in the front lines. MacArthur established headquarters in Corregidor Malinta Tunnel and busied himself issuing 109 press releases that described himself as “The Lion of Luzon” and “going in everywhere.” * * * Daddy said, “Admiral Chester Nimitz will command the Central Pacific, CINCPAC, and he delegated Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley to handle the South Pacific and Guadalcanal. That leaves the Southwest Pacific, SWOPE, where you have larger land masses. I hear that when FDR suggested MacArthur as SWOPE chief, some of the Joint Chiefs objected. So did ‘Ike,’ who complained about the nine years he’d spent ‘studying dramatics’ under him.” “But MacArthur has brilliance and charisma, along with a genius for using the press as a propaganda tool,” my uncle replied. Daddy nodded. “Besides, he knows the geography of the Pacific, including the 1,000-island Philippine archipelago.” Grandpa chimed in, unusual for him: “Most Americans haven’t even gone to Hawaii, let alone the Pacific beyond.” Aunt Ruth agreed. “People prefer London and Paris.” * * * Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law sometimes don’t get along. Such was the case in the emperor’s family, where his hawk wife pitted herself against his dove mother. Though Japan allegedly teems with ten thousand kami spirits who reside in the rocks, fields, and trees, their holy presence could not save the emperor from the struggles of these two strong women. He feared his mother, adored his wife, Nagako, whose patriotic haikus stiffened his resolve to fight with greater ferocity. However, his mother, Teimei Kogo, Dowager Empress Sadako, took a resolute antiwar stand. She dreaded the Americans and believed they would crush Dai Nippon. When she wasn’t lecturing him, her thin, dry lips trembling, she sent him haikus around themes of the traveler who seeks the seed of the green tree of peace or a moment of peace being a bar of gold. Worse, she called everything he did a “stupid mistake.” He would point out that the pride of conquest united the Empire of Japan, and added that Westerners did not learn the customs of others, befriending only each other. Now Shinto priests migrate through the empire teaching Dai Nippon’s ancient ways. Asia for Asians. Instead of agreeing, she’d stare at him with hostile black smudge eyes that unnerved him. He called her the world’s “most ungrateful mother,” while she referred to him as “delusional.” They scowled at each other, he with his thick eyebrows, she with her delicate arches. * * * Hirohito stood near a golden screen painted with a field of iris and summoned one of his most trusted kuramakus. He preferred kuramakus to ministers and commanders, because they could think. Today’s visitor recommended the emperor organize an asset-stripping plan for occupied countries, rather than letting the commanders continue to randomly loot and pocket the spoils. The Japanese had financial needs _ didn’t all conquerors? The emperor smiled for the first time in too long. At last a superior concept. He would call his glamorous brother, Chichibu. The emperor trusted his Chichibu-san, unlike his other brothers. This particular Yamato already realized the vanquished countries teemed with gold and treasure, so he delighted in taking charge of an operation codenamed Golden Lily. He pretended to need medical leave from the army owing to tuberculosis, and claimed he’d gone to a sanitarium near Mt. Fuji. His people prayed for his recovery, bowing before flickering candles and bowls of billowing incense. Instead, in the dust of ancient roads, he walked through occupied China and Southeast Asia, his piglet hands clutching at goodies. His men took a dozen solid gold Buddhas, each weighing over a ton. He collected fine Asian art and appreciated jewelry, though not as much as his brother the emperor. Once Chichibu gathered up a country’s bounty, he sent it off on fake hospital ships to various locations. With his cultivated taste and love of souvenirs, he did save some pretty jewels for his wife and daughters, not to mention a few objects to freshen up his palace. His belief in the sacred also motivated him to collect religious artifacts for the emperor. Hirohito responded to esthetics, especially objects fabricated from gold or jade and encrusted with precious gems. He favored Shakyamunis, (Buddha, the lion of the Shakya tribe), Padmapanis, (queens of heaven), Tao-tieh (tiger-god) masks, and dragons. In time Chichibu seized so much treasure, it became physically impossible to move it to Japan, so he conscientiously stashed it in the Philippines, hiding it in over two hundred church vaults, bunkers, and underground tunnels. The hills came to life with the sound of coins clinking. In Ipoh, Malaysia, he melted gold and created bars of bullion bearing the stamp of the Golden Lily logo he helped design. The bounty still lurks in caves, and every so often, someone discovers a bit of it. A recently unearthed solid gold Philippine Buddha weighing close to a ton reportedly resides in a Zurich vault. * * * Yamashita paced the floor in diagonal criss-cross patterns when he concentrated, his movements having as much of the tiger as the man in their poised tension. He had little more than six weeks to create his strategy, and portents looked cloudy. He made his plans, then bowed to the small bronze Shinto idol he always carried with his belongings. The Philippine flatlands held too many guerillas. A woman in a straw hat bending weaving a basket, an old man smoking under a banyan tree, or a teenager chewing betel nut might be a commando in disguise, so Yamashita would station his troops in the mountains. He would let the Allies ashore unopposed, surround them, and rain down fire, withering fire from above that would scorch their very souls. He planned to split his troops into three groups: the Shobu, north of Baguio would track the rodents on the plains like, well, tigers; the Shinbu would protect Manila, and the Kenbu, in a mighty chain along Sacobia Ridge, would bombard Clark Field. Unlike the enemy, his men knew the terrain and would use his night fighting methods. They would swallow their prey. Besides his own Luzon force, about 2,500 naval ground troops divided themselves between Manila, Clark Field, and Legaspi, under the command of Vice Admiral Dedshichi Okochi, a weary man who knew he’d launched a performance that would become irreversible as time went by. Yamashita could be sure of one thing: the admirals would be as common as sea urchins around Leyete, and would greedily siphon off troops and supplies needed to defend Luzon. The navy planned a Sho-go victory operation extending over more than six hundred miles of sea, and Yamashita knew flexibility counted. Unfortunately for him, however, the custom-worshipping admirals froze when it came to on-the-spot decisions. Still, they had some fancy gadgets: star shells like fireworks that illuminated the night, powerful searchlights, flashless gunpowder. Yamashita carried two swords with him, one large and one smaller. The single-edged blades, curved and tempered from steel, stood as the most lethal cutting weapons known to man. They shimmered in beauty from the tempering process by which men repeatedly folded the steel into thousands of thin layers. Sword sheaths looked like works of art, exquisitely wrought in gold, silver, and other precious metals. Only the most respected artists in Japan designed, fabricated them, and decorated them with largely religious depictions. Like MacArthur, contemplating a battle gave him a rush. The fever gripped him, the unbearable longing for victory, however impossible it might seem. * * * Daddy’s troopship moved through the South China Sea and Central Philippine Islands, but this time he experienced time as racing by, unlike before; it raced with increasing speed, never halting or allowing for a glance behind. He wrote in his diary: I sit for hours, while the nights become mornings and the miles fall away. Water, oblivion, sky, and water. Time seems more abstract now, the past more distant when I look back. Luzon. How much will blind me? Evade me? I’ve fought in combat patrols, but training’s not a promise. The sea, the sky enlarge with time, and I shrink. My buddies and I are passengers on the same ferry, bracing for a ride, knowing we will fall off at different points. I see Mary-Helen hovering near me. Her image looks bright to me as a desert noon, and I want to reach for it. A kamikaze hit a ship right next to Daddy’s, and flames seared the night with bright red and gold. The scene assumed a monster configuration as men tried to survive, their bodies specks of black against the maddening glow. The smell of smoke and metal filled his nostrils, and the odd idea came to him that even Mom’s perfume would never rid him of it. He kept silent, feeling a sudden oppression; death could touch him soon. He would try to elude it, to fight, to fulfill whatever promise he had, but he could never have imagined anything like the sight of Luzon when it appeared on the horizon. The island lay at the northernmost tip of the Philippine archipelago, and the island stretched about 450 miles north to south. Birds wheeled and hung above its hamlets, inlets, and deep green rivers, or called out from trees. The flowers, the leaves, and the sparkling waters caught the full light of the sun, as natives guided boats through gorges hacked out of the forests or tended rice paddies. At least half of the men stood ready to join the Allied troops. “Strike Day,” January 9, 1945, dawned with a light but broken overcast sky and regular, gentle swells whose great beds of foam broke against the white sands of Luzon’s coastline. The guns of Allied naval fire support vessels bombarded the landing beaches, and then the lead troops waded through the swirling waters to the shores _ among them, Daddy. They seized the Lingayan Airfield, and General Krueger descended the gangplank of the flagship USS Wasatch to take command of the Sixth Army ashore. Immediately reporters infested the region, but Krueger brushed their questions aside, “I would much prefer you drop the matter.” At sundown, Daddy, a euphoric man, wrote Mom: Well, my pet, it’s the end of the first day. Strike Day began with the thunder of naval bombardment - harrowing and beautiful to watch. I saw the whole show from the bridge of our ship. I waded ashore about noon. Since then, the battle has been like a map plan at Leavenworth, but with sound effects and real ammunition. The Japanese apparently decided to withdraw and live to fight another day. Wonder what happened to their ‘invincible spirit?’ The Filipinos acted overjoyed to see us, and very hungry. Guerillas come out of the hills and fight with a strength and fury born of living under Japanese domination. They’re a ragged band, some arriving unarmed and barefoot, their teeth stained with betel nut. Among them are well-trained soldiers with names like ‘shooting squid’ or ‘blood angel.’ All of them help and will dig a foxhole for a GI in return for a cigarette; the GI just sits and enjoys it. MacArthur smuggled arms to the guerillas right along, but the Nips purloined half of them. No matter. It won’t do them any good. They’re beat, and they know it. Never saw so many kids in all my life, cute and happy little tykes. It’s been interesting to watch the natives returning to their simple homes. They fled to the hills when the battle started, taking the few possessions they could carry on their backs. The large families return, loaded in the carts. It’s a pitiful sight; in most cases, their simple thatched houses have been reduced to ashes. Late in the afternoon, during an air raid, a shell fragment fell about ten feet from my hole. My friend Jim Williams worried a lot more than I did over that. Well, my precious, I’m happy and busy. Writing will be spotty for some time, but I’ll do the best I can. Working about eighteen hours a day, but it’s fun. * * * On the “bright island where the frangipani grows,” Daddy crossed over into another experience. After the unopposed landing, the Americans faced devastating bombardment, as Yamashita’s troops opened fire. Mortar shells blew the tops off palm trees, ruined roads, filled the air with steam and dust. The deafening sounds of weapons enlarged the grand and terrible events. The screams of the wounded combined with the “banzais” the Japanese shrieked at the top of their considerable lungs, and sometimes they shouted taunts: “Hello, hello. Where are your machine guns?” or “Surrender, surrender. Everything is resistless.” Daddy said, “Give me a moment, and I’ll think of a swift, incisive reply.” He tried to keep his friends alive with humor, joked that MacArthur appeared at battlefields riding in a jeep, Eleanor Roosevelt by his side. In his diary he wrote: Ammunition’s running low. Strikes in the ports hamper transportation and unloading. Oxen-drawn carts loaded with pigs or chickens help move weapons, and water buffalo tote signal equipment for us field artillery units. A flu epidemic rages, but I won’t catch it. I never get sick. Guns, blood, noise, and heat. Will I ever again be able to experience a day without dread? In battle, men learn who they are and what they can do. The chaos and exhaustion deranges some of them. Their teeth chatter, they scamper around aimlessly. One burrowed into a cave and got blown up. You figure they’ve gone beyond little lectures on the dream of peace. Night fell, and he climbed into his foxhole with Jim. Feeling the warmth of a good man next to him made it better. They rotated eating, sleeping, and watch in four-hour shifts, saying nothing. One word, and a Japanese might hear and toss a grenade or satchel charges, incinerating them. Fires were forbidden, so they lit cigarettes with special black lighters and ate cold K-rations: cheese, crackers, lemonade powder. After breakfast, Daddy gave the men a pep talk to muster enthusiasm. “Strength under siege,” he would say, “it’s important, and you men have it.” His words energized them but could not offset the sight of the crosses that sprang up every day. A week after landing, they moved west under heavy artillery and mortar fire, crawling along, staying clear of each other as if contact represented danger. Daddy prayed. He kept moving. One morning the firing subsided for a few minutes, and he wrote home: Thank you for saying the shower will be all mine at home. I’m sick of not being able to sing in it, and when I return, I’m going to sing until the hot water runs out, wait for it to reheat, and sing again. I plan to shower and sing for a year. And hold you, my precious. How long it has been. We’re rolling right along. It’s amazing. There’s hardly a Nip standing around here. Today the gulf kicked up, and one LST (landing ship tank) broached; we lost some pontoon bridge materials, and the rough surf made unloading impossible. Do you think that slowed us down? Never. We secured the Manila railroad and the strategic Route 3 from Bambam to Mabalcat, sealed off Bataan. Ready to slow down and take a rest? Not us. We seized Calumpit, crossed the Pampanaga River twenty-eight miles from Manila, and, to the west, secured Subic Bay. I don’t mean my battalion did all these things at once. The Sixth Army has others, but we’re the toughest. As the Seventh Fleet glided into Subic Bay, Filipinos planted Old Glory on the shoreline, and a brass band played the Philippine and American national anthems. Filipinos gave the GIs cowrie shells as tokens of esteem. Remember when Montezuma gave them to Cortez, along with some feathers? Cortez was so disappointed he arrested Montezuma and kept him incarcerated until he came up with some gold. Sounds like something Hirohito would do. You’re probably wondering if our K-rations have improved. No! Tonight’s arrived in rain—drenched cartons that turned the ‘food’ into soggy mush. Whoever devised them preferred a life of making mistakes to a life of idleness. Maybe he was a spy. Some day I’ll die of overeating, but not here. Speaking of, Jim Williams told me the food planners ‘noodle around with ideas.’ Ideas? How to prevent weight gain ranks first. When I get home, I’m going to eat like a starved elephant on a peanut farm. We’re winning, but revenge is not as sweet as advertised. It’s more enemies wronging each other, leaving behind hatred. I keep my humanity by holding my memories of home: the small beige owl in our garden, poppies dancing on spring green hills, the pale color and fine texture of your skin. The sky turns from blue to lavender to pink in the sunset. This time of day always makes me homesick. The next day Daddy rode the Bambam River boat, a ride from hell with Japanese bullets whizzing by the entire time, killing men right and left, knocking them overboard until they turned the water red. * * * Aboard the Nashville, MacArthur waved his corncob pipe at General Krueger and famously hollered, “Go around the Nips, bounce off the Nips, but go to Manila!” Krueger told him that Yamashita wanted a mad dash to Manila. It was premature and could unnecessarily cost lives. He explained the logistical problems: the need for support troops, improvement of communication facilities, railroad and bridge construction, supplies, and reinforcements. “Nonsense,” MacArthur replied. He demanded Krueger divide his artillery battalions between Clark Field and Manila with no further argument. Most, of course, would head for Manila for MacArthur’s birthday celebration. Krueger insisted the insufficient Clark Field troops would outrun their supplies, since the enemy destroyed all the relevant bridges. Outnumbered and surrounded, they would die from pulverizing enemy artillery fire. Later, in “From Down Under to Dai Nippon,” Krueger wrote that MacArthur "did not seem very impressed by my arguments . . . He did not take seriously the danger of our troops’ overextension." MacArthur pulled rank and commanded Krueger to obey him. With sadness and foreboding, Krueger sent a large group in two “flying columns” on the road to Manila, and, on January 24, he ordered a few battalions, including Daddy’s 143rd, to change the axis of their attack ninety degrees and advance toward Clark Field. Here the wide, patterned farmland fell away; mountains, inflexible in their demands, continued for miles. Their rocky crags remained constant and yet never the same, and their jagged peaks surrounded Clark Field. The dangers Krueger feared proved all too real. Imperial General Tsukada, a devious tactician with an onion-shaped head, arranged the Kenbu defense along the ridges, some a thousand feet high. His machine guns, mortars, and heavy artillery lurked in caves on the high ground. The pillboxes, some three stories high, contained within their concrete walls 150-millimeter mortars, 20-millimeter, 40-millimeter, and 90-millimeter cannon. The Japanese could look down at the Americans struggling along and open fire. Stranded, outnumbered, our men fought against overwhelming odds. From above, the Kenbu group pinned down Daddy’s battalion. Heavy artillery fire from the far side of the Zambales Mountains slaughtered our men in the rear lines. Roaring masses hit them, and they felt agonizing bolts of pain run through them, saw blood, their blood _ everywhere _ their bodies ripped like pieces of cloth, and they writhed, begging God to stop the pain. Some kept feeling it as they cried out, kept feeling their pain and their heartbeat and their breath, and the metal and the fire, and then nothing. Our men on the front lines took more blasts from interlocking fields of fire anchored in pillboxes and connected by trenches to well-placed machine gun nests. The barrage raged twenty-four hours a day. Heavy Kenbu artillery blazed over the terrain, shredding men with shrapnel. Tracers blazed arcs of flame that illuminated the mud and blood of the mountains, and their fire bound itself to soldiers, consuming them. Glitters from flamethrowers burst against the blue sky of day or the black of night, gold arcs streaking and blossoming into more yellows and vermilions. General Rapp Brush called frequent staff meetings to debrief and revise tactics. He, Daddy, and the others met in a secured headquarters area behind Allied lines. On February 12, Rapp said, “We’ve got to find the artillery positions on the reverse side of Sacobia Ridge; the heavy, concentrated fire there’s raising hell with our troops, but you know that first hand. Chewing up our armored vehicles. We need to send Jim Williams up on a reconnaissance flight with a spotter.” He paused, studying faces, then nodded at Daddy. “Assign the job to someone in your unit.” “I’ll go, myself,” Daddy said. “I think I know where the heavy artillery is.” “No. Send one of your men.” Daddy stood up. “It’s not a kamikaze mission. Jim can really maneuver planes; they dance with him.” “I want you to delegate this. There’s a lot of anti-aircraft fire in the target area.” “Is that an order, sir?” Rapp hesitated. “Then Jim and I will go.” The decision made, Daddy wrote in his notebook: “Feb. 14, 5:30 p.m., Hangar K.”


Elizabeth Pomada

Interests & Hobbies

Nature, reading, movies, seeing friends, numerous environmental and educational causes. Politically I try to make people more issues-oriented than concerned with the two rather outdated and blurred parties.