• Miguel Navarro

Survivors: From WWII to Coronavirus


Art by Shaine Salonga

What we are seeing in the news is quite shocking. We are living in a very catatonic, catastrophic calamity of a pandemic. COVID-19 is running rampant across the world and is infecting people at a rapid rate. None so much so than senior citizens. Seniors (aged 65 and up) are being infected at the highest rate, and are dying faster. There have been quite a few outliers however. Across the country, and around the world, Veterans from World War 2, and even seniors who lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919, got the virus, and miraculously made a full recovery! These heroes have become icons, for not only surviving horrific ordeals in the second world war but also surviving the deadliest pandemic in world history.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bill Keeley


95-year-old Irishman Bill Keeley, resides in Mcminnville Oregon. He served in the Pacific Theater in World War 2, joining right after graduating high school. As the United States was island hopping in the Pacific to the Japanese mainland, he shipped out to the island of Guam, in the 53rd Naval Construction Battalion. There he built B-29 bombers and other aircraft. He was honorably discharged, at the end of the war, and lives a comfortable life with his Granddaughter, and his great-grandchildren. On Saint Patrick's Day, he received news that would change his life. He was diagnosed with COVID-19. Instead of celebrating his Irish heritage, he was quarantined in his bedroom. From the early days of his illness, he began to take a turn for the worse. “ He looked very ashen, and he tried to be tough,'' his granddaughter said, “But we could see him slipping. He had really bad body aches. He had several nights where he just couldn't sleep because he was in so much pain.” It seemed like it was the end for Officer Kelley. Remarkably, however, the 95-year-old vet strong as he is pulled through, and made a full recovery. He is now looking back at playing with his great-grandchildren all while staying 6 feet away.



Army Cpl. William Lapschies


Cpl. William Lapschies is no stranger to global pandemics. Only 2 years old when the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak went global, he was lucky to not catch it. However the same can’t be said of the 50 million people who died from this outbreak. Decades later, he joined the Army in 1943, near the end of the second World war. He was stationed in the Aleutian islands off the coast of Alaska, becoming an equipment dispatcher. At the end of the war, he was honorably discharged, and lived a full life, having two daughters, 8 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. Now at 103, he resides in a nursing home, where over 13 seniors have been diagnosed with the virus. He got the virus eventually, but only showed mild symptoms and no respiratory infection. Remarkably, he was declared free of COVID-19, on his 104th Birthday, and decided to celebrate with his family by going outside and eating cake (staying 6 feet apart of course).



Albert Moore


Albert Moore, is one hell of a fighter. A member of the British army in World War II, he fought for his country against the Italians in North Africa. After fighting in the sands of North Africa, he was later injured by a bomb blast and captured by the enemy. He was then transferred to a prison camp in northwest Germany as a POW, where he spent the remainder of the war. After the allies liberated Germany, he continued to serve his country by guarding London’s royal palaces. Albert, now 99 years old, was sent to the hospital first for breaking his wrist, in a fall. At the hospital he contracted the virus, and was facing a grim possibility of death. However due to his positive attitude, and his unbeatable determination to live, he was wheeled out of the hospital 3 weeks later, saluted by the nurse’s honor guard.

There is a lot of negative going on around in the world, today. Over 2 million people across the world are infected, with over 189,000 deaths. Good news is a treasured value in these times. These veterans have the grit that demonstrates how tough humans are. From the fjords of Alaska to the beaches of Guam, and the deserts of North Africa, these veterans were greeted as heroes returning home from the battlefield. Now after fighting an enemy that they can’t see, they are greeted back the same way they were greeted all those years ago, with a salute, and a grateful nation.


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