"The Way We Were"
A Graduation Ceremony Remembered: Nilda R. Berguido, RN
A VETERAN's MEMOIR
CM Sgt Albert Fives completed 42 years of military service to the United States. He comes from a family of national service dating back
to the Civil War. His daughter and granddaughter also served this great Nation.
Motivated by world events, I joined the US Navy at age 17 in 1941. I was a kid and I was overtaken with pride by the bravery of so many Americans. I wanted to be one of them! I was finally called up in 1943 and was sent to boot camp. The Navy learned I trained pigeons at home in New York City, so they assigned me to the homing pigeon training division in military intelligence. This was not what I had expected, I was patriotic and I longed to join the fight. Finally I was assigned to a carrier, at the last minute my orders were changed and I was sent to Lakehurst to work on the blimps that searched the ocean for enemy submarines. I was so disappointed, but I later learned that many men on that carrier had been killed in the Pacific so maybe it was a blessing in disguise. The next year, I was given the opportunity to request carrier duty through a draft, so I volunteered. Once again my orders were changed and I was sent to California to train on the landing barges.
I was then assigned to the USS Cottle and was off to the Philippines to land troops and supplies to the fight in the Pacific. During that time our ship was ordered to transport Japanese POWs. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the prisoners who spoke English. As the ship headed to California, the POW congratulated me for how fast we were able to rebuild San Francisco considering it was leveled by Japanese bombs. I almost laughed out loud! I was happy to tell him the truth. He was in total shock. I will never forget the look on his face, it was surprise and anger. He must have been feeling so used by his government.
At the end of WWII I was one of the lucky service members to be recognized in writing by President Truman. I still have my letter of gratitude from him. It is one of my most treasured possessions. At that time, many service members were being discharged right after they came home from the war. I still wanted to serve, so I opted to stay in the Naval Reserve rather than completely separating. I stayed in the Naval Reserve for 7 years. I was never called up.
After those 7 years, I was really bored working on landing barges. I guess I got a 7 year itch. I transferred into the Air Guard so I could be assigned to the engineers. I was also a physical fitness specialist, so they were glad to get me. I was mobilized twice! I received orders to be activated for the post office strike in New York and then I received orders for Vietnam. That news hit me like a ton of bricks. As it turns out, I ended up being sent to Korea instead. The US had to send troops to Korea because not only did the Chinese shoot down one of our fighter jets near the Korean border, the North Koreans stole the USS Pueblo right out of international waters. They still have it today! I was all set to be shipped to Vietnam but I obeyed my orders and went to Korea. Our mission was to protect South Korea and American interests and to be on guard for any Chinese incursions or acts of aggression. It was a very tense time. We could see the Chinese Soldiers over the border from our post. I was heavy equipment operator. My unit helped to rebuild the American base in Kun-Son. We were on guard at night because it was believed the North Koreans and the Chinese would attack. Once I was sent home from Korea, I served at home for the next 30 years. It was a great time in my life but it also shaped my life and my values.
My inspiration to serve was my father. He was a WWI veteran. He survived a gas attack in the Argon Forest. He was severely disabled by his respiratory disease but he never complained or applied for disability. He said he was so lucky to be alive, back home and so much better off than so many other veterans, he wanted those servicemen to have his share. When he was about 70, he was so sick; he finally went to the VA for treatment. He was advised to apply for disability to help him in is old age. He was awarded 100% disability but that came in just one month before he died! I am still so proud of him and that my desire to serve our Nation was passed on to my daughter, CPT Laura Fives, an Army Nurse Corps Officer and my granddaughter, 1LT Jean Kratzer, a National Guard Logistics Officer. My family’s history of service continues.
By Marilyn Abalos
“My ambition was to be a nurse and serve God, my country and my people. My motto is that ‘Sincerity and Humility are the virtues in woman and Love is the harmony of the world.’”
These are the words that have guided my mother, Natividad Ronquillo Abalos, as a woman, a wife and mother – and a nurse. I found this passage a frayed two by three inch hard-bound journal which she had written more than 70 years ago in Oton, Iloilo, Philippines.
Mom was a nursing student at the Iloilo Mission Hospital’s Nursing School. The American administration had offered full scholarships in nursing and medicine to students in Iloilo in the 1930s. “The Americans paid the tuition for girls to study nursing and medicine for the boys.” She received her RN degree from School of Nursing, Iloilo Mission Hospital in 1935.
It was her nursing career that took her across the Philippine Sea to the US Territory of Guam. Mom was part of the first wave of Filipino immigrants who traveled to Guam as part of the US Military effort to rebuild the island following the devastation of World War II.
Photo Courtesy by the Abalos Family
Sentosa Nurses: Land a Mark on US Labor History
What was the Sentosa 27++ is all about
This is the case of the 27++ nurses and related healthcare workers who were directly hired by the recruitment agency, Prompt/Sentosa Enterprise from the Philippines to work in New York nursing home care facilities.
In April 2006, these nurses allegedly walked-out from the Avalon Gardens, apparently creating a staff shortage that “endangered the welfare of patients”.
In March 2007, the nurses were indicted by the Suffolk District Court, together with their legal counsel, Atty. Felix Vinluan for a professional advise that it was the nurses right to resign, which was considered “a solicitation to commit a crime.”
The advocacy by several former Sentosa nurses, now known as the Sentosa 27++, to expose the fraud and misrepresentation in the immigration process that they believed resulted in the discrimination and abuse of immigrant Filipino nurses began.
The nurses filed a suit, the agency countersued, and vice-versa
The nurses filed the first salvo of complaints against Sentosa Enterprise before the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Immigration Practices. A few days later, Sentosa filed breach of contract cases against the nurses before the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County. It also filed administrative complaints against the nurses before the NYSED-Office of Professional Discipline, charging the nurses with patient abandonment.
The nurses countersued the Sentosa-affiliated nursing home facilities for breach of contract. They alleged the facilities were the ones that actually breached their contracts by not providing them any employment. They contended they were made agency nurses of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa Services. Prompt/Sentosa Services is an entity distinct and separate from any of the contracting nursing home facilities.
Violation of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution fell on Filipino Nurses
The 13th Amendment was written in 1865 to forbid slavery and involuntary servitude. “The imposition of such a limitation upon the nurses’ ability to freely exercise their right to resign from the service of an employer who allegedly failed to fulfill the promises and commitment made to them is the antithesis of the free and voluntary system of labor envisioned by the 13th amendment”, the judges said.