The reality of war is bittersweet. With war come both the bitter memories of the pain that conflict causes and the sweet rewards that having courage and respect for your country can bestow. Without courage and faith, no rewards are forthcoming. In Bitter Sweet, author Barbara A. Tyler recounts the war experiences of two black veterans who served during World War II and the Korean War.
Part memoir, part military history, Bitter Sweet details the military careers of John J. Pickney and Woodrow Duhon who both joined the military in 1944—Pickney the United States Navy and Duhon the Marine Corps. Though the two men never served together, they became friends and bonded through their experiences as black men serving in the military. This story details their careers, including Duhon’s brush with death and receipt of two Purple Hearts.
Featuring many photos, these stories illustrate the realities of war and show the fight, bravery, and endurance it takes to survive service during times of conflict.
Thirteen-year-old Rodolfo Balao was in church listening to a solemn Mass when Japanese planes flew over his town in the Philippines and bombed the airfield. Just days after Rodolfo and his family evacuated to a farm high above Tuguegarao, the Japanese took over their town, razing and killing until nothing remained except memories. Rodolfo’s family would not return home for six months.
In his fascinating memoir, Rodolfo tells the striking, true story of his experiences in the Philippines during World War II. Through compelling vignettes, Rodolfo details how his family managed to survive despite their loss of freedom, the brutality of the Japanese officers, and the constant fear of execution. In the face of the chaos of war that enveloped their town, Rodolfo also shares joy-filled moments as he learned to dance and fell in love. After his family escapes once again, Rodolfo finds happiness in caring for his new horse, Pandy. But it is not long before a guerrilla officer demands the horse, forcing Rodolfo to bargain with his life, join the guerrilla group, and change his future forever.
The deeply personal journey through war and its subsequent effects shared in My World War II Story is a worthy tribute and memorial for Rodolfo and all of those whose lives unwittingly became intertwined with the onset of an unforgettable war.