Dad of military nurse in C-130 crash never imagined losing daughter in tragic manner

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2021 08:56 AM | Updated as of Jul 08 2021 09:34 AM

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MANILA—First Lt. Sheena Alexandria Tato, one of those who died in the Sulu military plane crash, became a flight nurse instead of fulfilling her dream to become a doctor, her father said Wednesday.

Retired Col. Wilfredo Tato said his daughter had grown up practically in the military barracks.

"Si Rhea doon na iyan sa kampo. Doon na siya magsimula ma-orient siya . . . Nakasalamuha ang kasundaluhan bata pa lang siya," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(Rhea began her orientation in the camp . . . She mingled among soldiers when she was just a child.)

Tato said it was his idea for his daughter to become a flight nurse.

"Nakahanap siya ng trabaho. Ang nurse noon magkano lang ang sahod? Gusto niya maging doktora," he said.

(She found a job. How much did a nurse earn then? She wanted to be a doctor.)

"PUJ driver ako dito sa Davao. Ako ang nag-isip na gusto mo magpasok sa military? Sabi niya, ‘Oo, pa.’"

(I was a PUJ driver here in Davao. I asked her if she wanted to enter the military. She said, 'Yes, dad'."

The retired solder said he does not blame anyone but himself for his daughter's death.

"Wala akong sinisisi sinuman sa Armed Forces of the Philippines, sinuman sa tao sa mundo dahil walang nakakaalam. Ang Diyos lang ang nakakalam sa kanilang destiny," he said.

(I don't blame anyone in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Or anybody in the world, because nobody could have known. Only God knew their destiny.)

"Hindi ko na-foresight ang pagiging flight nurse kung saan nag-flight nurse ay nasa bingit ng kamatayan ang isa nilang paa. Hindi ko na-foresight, kaya sinisisi ko ang aking sarili."

(I did not foresee that a flight nurse meant she had one foot in the grave. I blame myself for what happened to her.)

Tato said he had forgotten to suggest to his daughter to take a commercial flight after the C-130 plane had experienced difficulties on June 28.

"Noong June 28 bumalik siya papuntang Jolo. Nag-report siya sa Villamor Airbase. Iyon daw magdu-duty may sakit ang anak. So ngayon si Rhea ang ipinalit. Gusto rin naman ni Rhea. Tinanggap niya." 

(Last June 28, she returned and reported to Villamor Airbase. She was relieving someone whose child was sick.)

"Noong sumakay sila ng C-130 due for takeoff bumalik sila kasi nagka-diperensiya. Napag-isip-isip ko na sabihin sa aking anak na sumakay na lang siya sa commercial plane."

(When they were about to take off, the C-130 had to go back because something went wrong. I should have told my daughter to just take a commercial flight.)

Tato said he was stunned when he heard about the plane crash.

"Tumawag ang boyfriend niya saktong alas-2. Iyong sinasakyan ni Rhea nag-crash. Tuliro kaming lahat. Na-shock ako, ayaw kong maniwala," he said.

(Her boyfriend called us at 2 p.m., saying Rhea's plane had crashed. We were stunned. I was in shock. I did not want to believe it.)

"Di ako manininiwala. Di official communication iyan. Para akong buang na pasigaw-sigaw."

(I refused to believe. I said it was not an official communication. It was like I was going crazy just screaming.)

Tato called for prayers for his daughter and others who suffered in the worst military plane incident in Philippine history.

"Hinihingi ko ang panalangin ng lahat hindi lamang kay Rhea kundi sa lahat ng kasundaluhan na nandoon, na naging biktima," he said.

(I ask for everyone's prayers for Rhea and all soldiers who were victims.)

"Si Rhea ay pinakamamahal kong anak. Sinusunod niya ang kaniyang tungkulin na makapasok siya as a flight nurse. I will have to face that personally."

(My beloved child Rhea was only fulfilling her job to get into the military as a flight nurse.)

The military has so far identified 19 out of 49 soldiers who perished in the incident. Three other civilians were killed when the plane crashed into their homes.