Jose Octavio “Tavo” Cordero
FRIENDS FOR LIFE
Friendship is a gift that should be appreciated. Why? Because a good friend is hard to find. Many friendships were forged in wartime. Most were fleeting and lasted only as long their experience there. Very few stood the test of time. One special friendship which lasted more than 50 years was the friendship between Jose Antonio “Tony” de la Rosa Melendez (on right in above photo) and Jose Octavio “Tavo” Cordero (on left in above photo). Both were born in Arecibo and were drafted in October 1950 and shipped to Korea immediately. Initially, they were assigned to the 1st Bn. of the Anti-Air Artillery; Tavo in “M” Co. and Tony in the Special Combat Team in Construction. While there, they struck a friendship with Juan “Cachaco” Rosa from Bayamon and soon become inseparable.
On May 17, 1951, the friends made a pact. They divided a dollar bill into 3 pieces and each took a piece. When the war was over, they would reunite and tape the pieces of the dollar bill together. Almost as soon as each went his way, there was a huge explosion and Tony went running to see his friends. When he arrived, he saw Juan Rosa covered with a sheet and Tavo also being covered by a sheet. Heartbroken, he left thinking both of his friends had died and only he had the remaining piece of the dollar.
Tony was assigned to the 65th Inf. on July 4th and on September 18th the 65th was sent on a mission. During the battle, Tony entered a building where some of our soldiers were taking cover. From a distance, he instantly recognized his friend Tavo who had in fact survived the explosion and they hugged and greeted each other. Tavo had been wounded and later returned to duty, although he had lost his piece of the dollar bill.
Throughout the war and for many years later – through marriages, children and even while living in different states – Tony and Tavo remained friends and would often write or see each other. On January 17, 2001, Tavo died after a long and painful battle with cancer. Tony who now lives in Bronx, New York attended Tavo’s funeral in Connecticut; sad to see his friend go, but pleased to have enjoyed so many wonderful years of this special friendship. He still carries with him his piece of the dollar bill.
Written on June, 2001