On Friday, Nov. 8, one of the most deadly typhoons, not only in the history of the South Pacific, but in the world, swept through the Philippines. According to several national and international sources, at least 10,000 people are feared dead, and thousands more are anticipated dead as more becomes known in the days to come.
According to a Saturday report from the New York Times regarding Typhoon Haiyan, the second category 5 typhoon to hit the Philippines this year: “The Red Cross in Manila said earlier on Saturday that its people on the ground were reporting an estimated 1,000 deaths on Leyte Island, where Tacloban is, and about 200 on the neighboring island of Samar.”
Graham resident and World War II veteran Rueben Peitz learned of the typhoon and couldn't help but remember a typhoon that he and his fellow seamen were caught in almost 70 years earlier on the Philippine island of Leyte, the very same island mentioned in this weekend's New York Times report.
By late 1944, Peitz's ship, the USS Hyperion, a Crater-class cargo ship, had been all over the world, from the Solomon Islands, to the Bismarcks, to New Zealand. By Oct. 29, 1944, the USS Hyperion sailed amid a 33 ship convoy into Leyte Gulf.
It was that same day, according to Peitz's diary, that a typhoon hit the tiny Philippine island just as they approached it. The entry that Peitz wrote in his diary that day read simply: “Oct. 29, 1944. A typhoon hit the bay. Had to take my boat to the beach in storm. And believe me that was a job. Water was rough.”
Once Peitz's captain heard that the storm was on its way, he ordered all of the landing craft to be put ashore. As the crew scrambled to prepare for the coming typhoon, the waters started getting more and more choppy, and the waves were approaching four feet in height.
Read the entire story in Wednesday's edition of the Graham Leader.