Our Valley Santa Clarita July/August 2016 - Page 31

Heaven with joy. ***** Summer/Fall, 1943, New York, NY Four months later, Willie was given an emergency leave that took him from Biloxi to Manhattan. There he met his newborn son, William. Five days later, Willie was on a troop train to San Francisco. ***** Linda had to figure out a way to make do. She had three kids (Eddie 6, Linda 5 and newborn Willie) and had to figure out how to survive financially on her husband’s military pay … which wasn’t enough. So she did what mothers and wives have done for ages. She took control of the situation. “Get down!!!” Then suddenly there was no noise. The bomb blast threw him onto the ground and there he lay motionless. Bombs were still falling, men were still yelling, but Willie couldn’t hear anything. His hearing apparently shattered, Willie got up, ran to his shelter and got on his knees and prayed, “Gracias Diosito.” ***** Willie didn’t hear a thing for two weeks. Then almost as suddenly as it had gone, his hearing came back. The next two years were Suddenly she heard a loud sound, “Linda!!!” ***** Every afternoon, when Linda awoke, she looked out of her third story window to the busy street below. She cringed every time she saw the Western Union man delivering his telegrams. Many of them were from the military and started with, “We regret to inform you …” After a short cab ride home, a very warm welcome from his mother and his children and having had his first Puerto Rican meal in years, Willie sat alone with Linda on the sofa in the living room. He told her, “Gracias for all your letters. They kept me filled with love and many reasons to come home safely. And, thank you for being you. I love you more than I could ever say.” Linda prayed every time she saw him, “O Lord, please don’t let it be my turn.” Early 1944, New Caledonia, Pacific Theater of War Willie survived the crazy train ride to San Francisco, but barely survived the constant sea sickness on the transport ship to New Caledonia in the Pacific. Now he ran for his life as the blaring sirens warned of incoming Japanese bombers. The noise was unbearable as their bombs landed nearer and nearer to him. He barely heard his Sergeant imploring him to, Linda stood at the arrival gate anxiously awaiting Willie. She was dressed modestly in a blue jumper over a white blouse that had a lovely blue bow at the neck. Her hair was long and wavy parted at the middle of her head. It was winter, so she wore a black knee length coat with a blue plaid scarf over her shoulders. It was hot indoors so the coat was open in the front revealing her jumper. She watched as dozens of soldiers came out through the gates. Where was he? Where was he?! Could he have missed the train? Did something happen to him? First, she took a graveyard shift job with the U.S. Post Office. Then she rented an apartment and got her mother in law to stay with her and help with the kids. There were three things she insisted on doing every single day: dinner with the kids, personally bathe the kids and write letters to Willie. ***** end. He had boarded a transport ship from Manila to San Francisco during which he was even sicker than on the one that took him to New Caledonia. When he landed in San Francisco, he got on the first troop train to New York. By the time he arrived at Pennsylvania Station, he was over being sea sick and anxious to see his Linda. He looked dashing in his uniform even while running out of the train, carrying his duffle bag, to reach the arrival area. spent flying missions from New Caledonia, Palawan and finally Luzon in the Philippines. Willie was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber. Although he had some near fatal encounters in the air, he never had to deal with problems on the ground again. Less than two years later the war was over. Willie was going home. ***** December, 1945, New York, NY Willie’s long journey home was about to Linda cuddled closer to him and said, “I love you. I don’t ever want you to leave me again. That must have been a terrible experience for you.” “Yes,” Willie responded. “Don’t ever put me on a ship again!!” With that, they both laughed out loud. Willie never ever left Linda again. 31