Last surviving brother
Louis Arebalo, a retired Army officer and longtime employee of the city of Wellington, was one of seven brothers, living here in town, who volunteered to serve during World War II.
The brothers - Ralph, Frank, John, Laurence, Louis, Reyes and Eddie - all survived the war to return home.
Today, at 97, Louis Arebalo is the last surviving brother.
His brothers enlisted in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Louis Arebalo felt he had to do likewise.
“I said it wasn’t fair for them to go and for me to stay home. I wasn’t gonna stay home and let them do all the dirty work,” Arebalo said.
Arebalo was the only one of the brothers to serve in the Pacific, stationed in the Philippines. He worked reconnaissance and spent his share of time behind enemy lines. He was a first-class gunner and marksman.
“I had to get as close as i could to the enemy line. In other words, you have to sneak up on him and find out what they’re doing just like they did us,” Arebalo said. “We had a lot of close calls but i never did get caught. At night time, you sleep with one eye closed and one eye opened.”
Of Army life, Arebalo said, “If you learned to take orders and obey, you wouldn’t have any trouble. A lot of them would say, I don’t like this, I don’t like that, they got in trouble. They got on KP - kitchen police and I didn’t want to get on KP.”
Arebalo said he followed orders and got along well with the captains and lieutenants and sergeants. “If you bucked the system, you were in trouble so you might as well join them,” he said.
“The higher the rank you get, the more responsibility you get,” he said. “I was offered lieutenant. I was offered captain, but the more responsibility you get, the more you have to do so I said, ‘I’ll stay where I’m at.’”
Ultimately, Arebalo retired from the military as a tech sergeant in 1975.
One of the highlights of his time in the service was serving on an honor guard as part of a military escort for Pres. Harry Truman when he was traveling in Minnesota.
“He was nice,” Arebalo said. “He was real sympathetic about what we had to go through.”
Arebalo got to shake hands with Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.
“I shook his hand and didn’t wash it for a month,” he said.