When he was boy in the Philippines in the early 1940s, Dr. Servillano Yumang and his family provided food, shelter and protection for an entire year for an American soldier fleeing from Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Yumang, a Howland resident, said what his family did put their own lives at risk while saving the soldier from the Bataan Death March.
LEFT: Dr. Servillano Yumang, a doctor in Howland, looks over photos of when he first came to the United States in the mid-1950s. When Yumang was 12, he and his family in the Philippines hid an American soldier from the Japanese soldiers during World War II. The soldier kept in contact with the family for some years when he lived in Texas.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
In April 1942, the Japanese invaded the Philippines, where the American soldiers were helping the Filipino people. Yumang said he was 12 when World War II broke out.
"So many families in the Philippines were affected by the war. It was a very brutal time," he said, noting that the U.S. Armed Forces along with the Philippine soldiers battled the Japanese at Bataan.
Bataan is a peninsula surrounded by Manila Bay near Masantol, Pampanga, where his family had a rice farm, he said.
Alvis O. Loveless
March 5, 1916, to Aug. 17, 2006
Buried in Providence Cemetery in Franklin County, Texas
- His marker reads: ''U S Army; S.G.T. 22nd Bomb Group; W. W. II Victory Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Philippine Ribbon with Bronze Star; Asiatic Pacific Service Medal; American Defense Medal with Bronze Star P.O.W. Purple Heart.'' Footstone: ''Sgt. U. S. Army Air Force, World War II Purple Heart''
- Source: Providence
There was an American soldier who didn't surrender to the Japanese and hid in the bushes alongside the shore of Manila Bay when other soldiers were overcome, he said.
The soldier, whose name was Alvis O. Loveless, then 26, from Mount Vernon, Texas, stayed for more than one year with the family, Yumang said.
He said his older brother was in a sailboat, which people used to cross Manila Bay, and met the soldier in the swampy area and brought him home.
"The soldier stayed with us. He was a like a member of the family. Whenever the Japanese staged a raid, the mayor of our town would send a messenger to our home to tell us to take precautions," Yumang said.
He said the family built a hut near the jungle for the soldier, who would hide there when the Japanese were holding raids.
Yumang said he remembers taking hot meals to the soldier.
"If the Japanese ever found out we were hiding and helping an American soldier, we would have all been beheaded. There would have been no mercy," he said.
Yumang said the family was at first shocked when his older brother brought the soldier home but took him in and provided him with his own room.
"What I noticed about the soldier was he was very religious and had a Bible with him all the time," he said.
The children learned English in school and spoke to Loveless, he said.
"We all helped him. He was very, very grateful for the shelter and knew it saved his life," Yumang said.
"During the war, we all worried our lives were in danger or would we be alive the next day when the Japanese staged a raid," he said.
Yumang said the Bataan Death March was about 75 miles away from where they lived. It began on April 10, 1942. The Japanese forced approximately 78,000 American and Filipino prisoners to march about 65 miles over six days with little food or water. Those who could not keep up or who fell behind were executed. Yumang said at this time everyone stayed in their homes. Filipinos who attempted to help the prisoners could be beaten or killed if caught.
Military guerrillas eventually took Loveless with them when he became stronger, in order to fight against the Japanese, he said.
"We all cried when he left us with the guerrillas. We were all heartbroken. He cried, too," Yumang said.
"We never saw him but heard rumors that he had died in action during encounters with the Japanese. My family gave him up for dead," Yumang said.
But after the war, Yumang said the family did see Loveless again.
"He told us he was captured by the Japanese and taken to Okinawa as a prisoner of war before the liberation of the Philippines,'' he said.
Yumang said before Loveless went back to the United States, he came back to thank the family.
''He offered to take me and my older brother back to the United States to go to school there. We were children, and my parents said no,'' he said.
On Christmas for many years after, the family would receive candy and other goodies from Loveless. He also once sent them an outboard motor horsepower engine to use for power.
"The Philippines loved the Americans, and as children, we loved getting items from America," Yumang said.
Yumang eventually came to the United States in the mid-1950s for his medical residency and heard from Loveless again in a letter and then wrote back to him. Yumang said he wrote letters and believed Loveless worked on a farm at one time.
''After that, we lost track of him and never heard from him again," he said.
According to the Providence Cemetery Association of Franklin County, Texas, Loveless died Aug. 17, 2006.
Jeanette O'Neal, treasurer of the Providence Cemetery Association in Franklin County, Texas, said her parents knew Loveless and she herself met him when he lived in Franklin, where he collected farm machinery and owned land.
''Years ago, my mother and father were neighbors to Alvis and his mother and siblings. We remembered him telling us that a family in the Philippines had helped him during the war,'' she said.
The Yumang family had six boys and six girls cooking food and helping the soldier. Of the 12 siblings, nine are alive. All live in the United States, except one in the Philippines.
Dr. Norberto Yumang of New Castle, Pa., was 6 at the time Loveless came to his family's home.
''I remember waking up that morning and seeing an American guy in our house,'' he said.
''There was a hut by the swamp for him. My dad taught him how to hide in the water and breath through a straw,'' Norberto Yumang said.
Norberto Yumang said the family helped nourish the soldier when he became quite ill with swelling and ulcers.
''My father took him once by paddle boat to the doctor,'' he said.
Yumang said he communicated with the soldier, helping his father with the letters the family sent to him.
Norberto Yumang said as a child he enjoyed receiving the chocolates and chewing gum at Christmas.
''It was always nice to get gifts from him,'' he said.
Dr. Ray Castillejo of Howland said he grew up hearing war stories and found Yumang's story very unique.
''My first reaction when I heard his story was that he should write a book. It is such a compelling story,'' Castillejo said.
''It is just an amazing story when you hear it. His family was very courageous since they risked their lives helping this man,'' he said.
Yumang's wife, Agnes, said the family have not all heard the story of how he and his family risked their lives for the soldier.
"He has shared the story with some people, but not everyone," she said.
He has no photos of Loveless during the war, and many items the family had were lost during a flood at their home.