Tuesday, June 21, 2022

LOST LIMBS RESTORED

 



Three, young Chamorro women lost either a leg or a hand, thanks to World War II.

Two were sisters, entering their teens. Isabel Mendiola Iglesias was just ten years old when the war started, and her younger sister Magdalena Mendiola Iglesias was just nine.

Rosario Benavente Pablo was a bit older. She was nineteen when the war started. 

During the battle to retake Guam from the Japanese by the Americans, Isabel lost a leg and Magdalena lost a hand. Rosario lost a leg.

From Rosario's children we know the story. Rosario and her family were hiding up north on Guam when the Americans returned and severe fighting began between the Americans and the Japanese, who constantly moved north. Rosario's family started to move southward and spent the night in an abandoned structure in Liguan near Dededo. An American bomb hit the house; more than one family member was injured but Rosario's leg was severely damaged. They made it to the American lines and Rosario was taken to the American field hospital and her leg was amputated.



MARE ISLAND


MARE ISLAND NAVAL HOSPITAL


Right by Vallejo, California, not far from San Francisco, the US Navy operated a hospital with a special division; an Orthopedic Department opened to care for thousands of American soldiers who lost hands, arms, feet or legs in warfare.

Somehow Isabel, Magdalena and Rosario were able to receive the same kind of care at Mare Island, courtesy of the US Navy.

First, the three ladies had to be looked over to see what artificial limbs could be designed for them. Once made, the artificial limbs had to be fitted to the ladies' natural limbs. Then the ladies had to be trained how to use their artificial limbs, such as how to walk with an artificial leg to appear as natural as possible. Magdalena was taught how to use makeup on her artificial hand to match her natural skin tone.

The good news is that all three ladies lived long and happy lives. Isabel married Juan Crisóstomo Mafnas; Magdalena married Clemente León Guerrero Dueñas and Rosario married Terencio Lim Villaverde.




2 comments:

  1. Hi Pale,

    Thank you for posting this about my grandma. Just a slight correction, her name is actually Rosario Benavente Pablo Villaverde from Sinajana and Dededo. My grandpa was a steward on USS Haven which was the hospital ship that she and the igelsias girls were on going to mare island naval hospital. More than likely that is how my grandpa and grandma met. Also, my uncles said that they were still close friends after being at mare island for a year. There are a few articles about them and the reason why the U.S gave them artificial limbs and a stipend on newspaper.com.

    I appreciate you posting this and very much enjoy reading your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the alert Vincent. I confirmed the info with your uncle and made the change. The news article identified her as Rosa Pablo, and gave her age in 1947 as 22, meaning born around 1925. That was all. So I searched the 1930 and 1940 Guam censuses and there was not one Rosa Pablo at all, no matter what year of birth. But there was a Rosario Quitugua who was born in 1925 who married a Pablo during the war, so this lead me to believe "Rosa Pablo" was actually Rosario Quitugua, married to Pablo. But now it's all cleared up, as the newspaper gave the wrong name and age for your mother.

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