Twenty-eight-year-old Igmedio Patubo trudged for dear life with his US Army colleagues along the 100-plus-kilometer Bataan Death March in 1942. In pre-World War II Western Visayas, Patubo—my husband’s Lolo Meding—had been a bemedalled long-distance runner in the regional track and field meets.
Surviving the horrific historic march, Lolo carried his mementoes—malaria, beriberi, and later, the two Purple Heart medals that his wife Virgilia treasured for years (along with his other military and athletic awards).
One wonders, though: how did Virgilia and her three small children feel, saying goodbye again? For despite Lolo Meding’s Death March travails, he would go on to join the US Army’s 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in the Korean War. In January 1950, he sent photos of his US Army station, with notes scribbled to “Dolly” (short for Darling) and his eldest son Ivan.
Over 10 months later, on December 1, at North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, Corporal Igmedio Patubo was killed in action: a death memorialized in a formal letter signed by then-President Harry Truman.
In a uniquely Pinoy postscript, one of his own relatives would later quip, “Sa bilis ni Meding tumakbo, hindi niya naunahan yung bala….”