Thursday July 19, 2018

US veteran recalls how he became ‘Cebuano’

WHEN Danny Schacht came to the Philippines in 1945, he was a 17-year-old seaman on board a US Navy vessel going toward Eastern Visayas. 

A member of the US Naval Construction Battalions, popularly known as the Seabees, Schacht and his unit were on their way to Tubabao Island in Samar to help in the reconstruction works there following the liberation of the country by the Americans during World War 2. 

That was 72 years ago. Turning 90 next month, Schacht said he remains as strong as when he was 17.

Schacht, who lives in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City, told SunStar Cebu that he is one of the many US war veterans who stayed in Cebu after World War 2.

He is a native of Alameda in California before he decided to join the Navy after high school.

He said that following his stint in Eastern Visayas after the war as a ship mechanic, electrician and cook, he transferred to Cebu.

There, he met his first wife, Melania, in 1949. 

With Melania, he has five kids, all born and raised in Cebu. 

After Melania filed for divorce, Schacht married to another Cebuana, Vanebell.

Schacht has two kids with Vanebell. 

Because of his work with the Navy, Schacht had to be transferred to various assignments all over the country after the war.

He also saw action during the Korean War.

But even with his exploits in various countries, Schacht always came home to Cebu.

Schacht said that as a US veteran living in Cebu, he has virtually become a Cebuano himself.

“It’s so simple and peaceful living here,” he said.

While staying in Cebu, Schacht seeks to help the needy by asking donations from friends in the US.

Every year he does that since he came to Cebu in 1949.

Schacht said that ever since the war ended, he often felt the need to help others.

As part of his ministry work, he brings food and other goods to poor communities in Cebu.