Joseph Cardoza in the Pacific WWII Stories Needing to be Told

Meet US Navy Corpsman Joseph Vierra Cardoza, Purple Heart recipient, and the subject of one of my WWII beaded tapestries. Over the years, I have created about a dozen WWII Thankful Generations tapestries. This tapestry was one of my first ... a prototype, really, since I still didn’t know quite what I was doing.

Joseph’s son, Rod, shares his story: "I believe the image you have there is of him during his service as a U.S. Navy Corpsman stationed in Borneo in 1943. He told me he was part of a "Cub Unit" in support of the wounded as a result of battles during the "Island Hopping Campaign". It was not a safe job for him. On several occasions he was subject to front line fighting and ended up being the recipient of the Purple Heart medal.”

Rod continues, "Upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor in late 1941, my father immediately enlisted in the Navy, much to the chagrin of his mother, whom he said literally fell on the floor crying and pounding her fists when she learned of his decision. Because of his apparent aptitude for caring, he was assigned duty in the Naval Medical Corps as a Pharmacist's Mate. After training in Seattle and here in San Diego's newly formed Camp Kidd, he was sent to the South Pacific in mid-1942. Most of his duty time was spent in Northern Australia and in Borneo. He did see combat at Peleliu and Okinawa. Peleliu ended up being the most costly battle of the War for the Americans in terms of casualties. And my father, as a corpsman, said it was the most horrific experience of his life.”

Unlike many WWII veterans, Joseph did talk about his war experiences with his family. Rod goes on to tell more about his father’s time during the war:

"One interesting story he related to me was once they were anchored on his ship (an LST) in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea where they were witness to a mid-air collision of two friendly forces airplanes. The men on the ship could see that parachutes were deployed and my father asked the officer of the deck if he could take a landing craft to the scene. The officer acquiesced. Upon arrival, my father said the wounded pilots had just entered the water. One was picked up readily. The other had already dipped below the surface and was sinking due to the weight of his gear and the salt water saturation of his silk parachute. My father grabbed a long grappling hook in an attempt to snag the parachute and missed it by mere inches. In the clear tropical waters, the would-be rescuers watched the wounded pilot, with arm outstretched, sink ever deeper into the abyss. My father said he had nightmares about this for years to come."

Rod’s story of his dad continues, "My father had a major impact on my desire to serve in the Navy. As a little boy in the 1950's I never tired of hearing of his "War Stories" on Saturday morning laying on my parent’s bed.”

My project continues to highlight the freedoms we enjoy as the “thankful generations” who followed this greatest generation in the world after WWII. The photos above show pieces of my process, including the pattern I transpose from vintage photographs, to the loom and materials I use to create my tapestries. If you look closely enough, you’ll also see a couple of other completed tapestries. I am 45% complete with the bead weaving in the bottom right photo … that equates to over 8,200 beads.
A shadow box has been modified to hang and display the tapestry with backlighting. Somehow the backlighting makes the image seem more ethereal.

Through capturing and sharing such stories, I am reinvigorated in my efforts to complete this Thankful Generations project. I still have a long way to go, having completed only about a dozen tapestries!

FEBRUARY 5, 2014 - Started the project after experimenting with 3 separate photographs, and generating over 40 different versions of bead patterns.

MARCH 3, 2014 - Completed and removed from loom in less than one month, a personal record. With some additional rows, and the “finishing” process, the number of beads equals 19,771.

Tools and materials: 12” Little Guy Mirrix Loom; BeadTool; AA Cream Silk Thread & needles; Size 11/0 Miyuki Delica Beads, Ruler, Scissors

Dimensions: Finished tapestry - 7.25” x 10.5”. Incorporated beaded tabs at top and bottom for the first time, to make removal from loom easier and less risky.

I used hardwood to finish off the warp threads.

Read on just a little further to see a very happy ending ...

I am forever thankful to my friend, Rod Cardoza, for sharing this story and these amazing photographs with me. Now that I’ve become more proficient at making these tapestries, I decided to give him this prototype as a gift.

This cloth wrap was especially created by my daughter, Sarah so that the tapestry could be delivered safely and in style to our dear friend, Rod Cardoza ...

I definitely see the handsome family resemblence!

The impact WWII had on our world, in big and small ways remains in evidence even today. Is there someone in your life with similar stories? Start a dialogue and see where it leads … you may be surprised at what you find out, even from people you have known your entire life.

Created By
Maureen Kenney

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