I mention this because this was the closest I came to realizing my option of an exploded shell in the back. By now instinctively we hit the ground when we heard the whistle of incoming fire. During our run through the debris ridden city (streets were no longer identifiable) I heard incoming. Flattened face down to the earth on one side of the bole of a fallen tree. The shell exploded on the other side. I would guess the impact was not more than five to ten yards from me. Had either the shell or I been located any differently we would have proved that "two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time." Oddly, I didn't think it was a big deal or a close call at that time.

We looked for any structure that would give us cover. There were some buildings standing albeit lacking much of their walls. The first place we went to had housed a beauty shop. The wall facing the Bay View Hotel was gone. I sat under a sink, with an inverted pot over my head (my sister laughed at the sight of me) facing the Bay View. Suddenly a terrific explosion shook that building. Plaster and smoke coming out of every window. Then a second blast. The building withstood both events, I am certain that had we been in that building we would not have. I understand that after the war the building was repaired and resumed function as a hotel. In retrospect the explosions must have put our the fire a la Red Adair.

We ran from ruin to ruin, hoping to get nearer the American lines. By now I believed I brought bad luck to everyone I spoke to. They all died. I remember sitting in a room in which also sat a friend of mine, Eddie Lubert. We looked at each other but neither of us spoke. I last saw Eddie when we were running out of a ruined building, to which we had attached a sheet with a large red cross. We poor souls thought this would save us from friendly fire. The Americans opened up on our feeble ruin. Eddie's mother laid against a fallen sheet of corrugated galvanized roofing with a red spot in the center of her white top. Just that, no blood pouring elsewhere. She probably was dead. Later my father told me he ran into Eddie and Eddie told him he saw me and I looked scared. Hey! Eddie if you read this please understand that I didn't speak to you to save your life. Weird how kids think under such circumstances.

Now there was no food or water. Went to a different edifice, laying on the floor of a room at ground level. A shell hit a room on the other side of the wall. The wall fell. On the other side were a group of refugees. Smoke, fires, death, dying people. The survivors bleeding groaning. No way for us to help. Found out that here were other small groups in other rooms. Then a surprising thing happened. A couple of Caucasian men in civilian clothes, speaking unaccented English approached our group. One guy said "watch out for the boots, they are hobnailed," They came back with a soupy pot of boiled rice of which we gratefully ate our portion. Never saw the guardian angels again.

The shelling got worse and worse, too many hits and deaths. The upper floors were infested with Japanese soldiers, the Americans could do no wrong. The people said "they have to shell because the Japanese are in the building"

As I mentioned the area of Manila, we lived in was predominantly Caucasian inhabited- Spaniards, Italians, German Jews, American women married to Filipinos, White Russians, American Negroes, which reminds me that even in hell humans are all the same.

As we wandered through the battered, burning city a brown haired woman said to my mother "My dear we musn't mingle with the natives." My mother shot back "Back home you couldn't walk on the same side of the street with me." Later I asked my mother "Why not?" . She said because she is "an American Negro" I still didn't get it until I observed racism in the US. Shortly after disembarking in San Francisco we were put up in a barracks in Oakland. I found my first American friend. Would go to his house, where his mother always made us cookies and other treats. Then "You shouldn't be playing with that boy", "Why not, what's wrong?" "Because he is a Negro". Incredible!!

It was decided that blonde women and children would step outside and wave a white flag at the Piper Cub spotter planes. Did not work, within a few minutes the shelling opened up in a saturation mode. Again we excused this action by saying "They think the Japanese have forced us to wave the white flag so the Americans will stop shelling." I thought the spotter pilot was an S.O.B. He killed a lot of us but I doubt that his judgment accounted for one additional Jap. Probably the same guy who called fire on our "Red Cross" building. Had to leave this building, all the while heading for the sounds of small arms fire, which we knew had to be the American lines.

Ended up in a vacant house. I lay on the floor of the kitchen. There was a catalog of the 1939 World's Fair, remember a picture of Sally Rand (a dancer) who some thirty years later was a patient of mine, I read this cover to cover. No food in that kitchen. Then a terrific explosion in the building, that occurred in the living room. To the living room. Dante would have been inspired. Flames, blue smoke, bodies or parts thereof all over the place. A mother carrying the upper part of her four or five year old daughter, while another daughter carried the child's leg. The three of them dazed and wandering, scared, hysterical, crying, shocked. The little one still alive but unresponsive. The fire getting hotter and hotter. Left the building for the streets again. Again "Americans would never do this the Japanese must have planted a bomb." Any explosive was called a "bomba" whether aerial, howitzer, land mine or booby trapped dynamite.

We ran across debris and ruins, as I got several yards away a Japanese soldier ran by, waving a pistol at us. He seemed to be smiling, but did not shoot. We had not had face to face contact with any Japanese for several days, and I was certain that this was it for me. I looked him in the eye, don't know why, Perhaps I thought this would be my last sight on earth. Who knows? Maybe human eye contact elicited a touch of pity or mercy. He did not shoot me.

As I write this I have lost count of these close calls and I have only written of the memorable ones. I didn't count starving as one.

By the time we were about a block from the burning house the heat was so intense to this day I can feel my body heating up, when I think of it. Literally felt as if I would fall from the extreme temperature.

Through more rubble. Another burnt out building. The small arms fire was closer and closer. Someone came and said there were Caucasian soldiers nearby. Did not know if they were Germans or Americans. Reason: before the war Americans wore the same helmets as the British "Tommies" (M-1917) while the new helmets resembled the German helmets we had seen in pictures (M-1) Now another decision. To run to the American lines or wait for them to reach us. My mother said without hesitation "We're going to the lines, whatever they are they can't be any worse than these Japs." About half of the survivors elected to go with us. I later found out that those remaining were all killed in the room to room fighting. Americans had to throw grenades into each room. Of our group about half lived.

Now the next closest shave for me. As I ran to the American lines the Japanese in the upper floors were shooting at me. Bullets kicking up spouts of dirt about me. I was a speedy and by then streetwise eleven and a half year old and instinctively knew that running in a non-linear fashion would give them less chance to draw a bead on me. Never slowed up nor looked back, My speed and broken field running would have won me the Heismann trophy. I take this business of shooting at me personally, the other times were generic killings.

Then quiet. A vacant street, with three dead Japs in the middle. Corpses do not keep well in the tropics. The bodies were black and bloated, the bloated skin had split in places with yellow fat visible. The eye and mouth apertures looked like they were full of boiled rice moving incessantly. These were maggots, feasting. Some would drop off and fall down a chin or cheek. Some people were kicking the corpses. I didn't. I thought they were soggy and my foot would go into or through them.

Tired, sat on a curb. Looked behind us on the sidewalk. Five or six more putrid bloated bodies. "Mom there are some dead men behind us." "They're just Japs." "No mom they're Filipinos, their hands are tied behind them." Continued with our rest stop.

Heard English voices. They were the GIs. Holding their guns (O.K. rifles and BARs to you veterans I don't want to recite "this is my gun this is my piece") from behind a low cement wall. Someone in our party yelled "We're Americans." From behind the wall came a "So are we lady, get back. In about five minutes the artillery is going to open up right where you stand." Prudently we moved on, making no more idle chit chat.

Walked deeper into the ruined city. Several GIs were sitting on the ground, eating k-rations. I was starved, but too proud to beg. My emaciated face must have said it all because one of the guys said "Sorry kid, this is the first food I've had in days." But those K-rations sure looked good. Later whenever I would hear soldiers and veterans gripe about army chow, I would remember that episode.