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March 10, 2010 in History, WWII

Dear Phil:

I just finished reading “Red Sky In The Morning” and wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed this most interesting account of that period of your life. This book ought to be required reading by young people everywhere as it paints a very vivid picture of conditions which existed in the Philippines following the war in the Pacific and which probably existed in many other places in the world at that time. All need to be reminded of what can happen when there is a break down in civil law and when corruption becomes the rule in society.

The drama of this real life experience and that of your associates could not have been more interesting and exciting had it been written by a fiction novelist. Congratulation on this excellent work and best wishes in your efforts to get it published.

It has been a privilege to be acquainted with you […] over the years and even more so now as I have had the opportunity to learn of these interesting and previously unknown experiences of your life. Continued best wishes in every regard.

Very truly yours,
W. Lynn Dredge
Retired Tulare City Manager

I first met Phil Mehan while shooting my documentary film Bob Mathias: Hometown Hero, in Tulare, CA. Phil has been a benefactor of the Tulare Historical Society and actually had Olympic legend Bob Mathias appear at the grand opening of his shopping center there.

When Phil told me of his experiences in the Orient I was of course very interested, so he let me have a copy of his memoirs to read. “Phil,” I told him, “this is really a fascinating true story of your days as a merchant marine and, later, entrepreneur. It’s really a ‘diamond in the rough’. You should consider having it developed into a novel.”

Subsequently, Phil told me that best-selling authors Sterling and Peggy Seagrave were taking on the project, and I was really delighted when Phil later asked me to read the manuscript. By the middle of the first page, I began feeling that I was reading something well-researched, and also very well-crafted in its narrative structure. This all adds up to it being very enjoyable to read.

The book has thrilling historical context comparable to great works such as “Shogun,” or “The Bridge Over the River Kwai,” and all of the excitement and intrigue of modern sagas such as “Bourne Identity.”

Set in post-WW2 Manila when the seeds of the cold war were sprouting, and anti-communist paranoia was being exploited by power-crazed espionage agents, this action thriller is the true story of Philip A. Mehan, a suave if somewhat conservative merchant marine officer in his early twenties.

After staying on in war-torn Manila as a civilian freight and shipping entrepreneur, Mehan, having been strangely arrested, imprisoned in the infamous Bilibid Prison and remarkably escaping, eventually learns that he has been inadvertently marked as a spy and gun-runner for communist forces in the Philippines.

As Mehan continues to evade harm or imprisonment, and the web of intrigue unfolds, he goes against his own survival instincts, which tell him to high-tail it home to the U.S.A., believing he can “beat the Devil,” and make his fortune in the Philippines. However, he can’t yet “see the strings,” unaware that his every move is being monitored by ruthless and even murderous intelligence agents of the American “G2” counter-intelligence corps, and that his very life is in grave danger.

This incredible but true story is one you won’t be able to put down once you start reading!

Dan Traub
Dreamkeeper Films, Inc.

Dear Phil:

I read “Red Sky in the Morning”. Having served in the Philippines before and during WWII and visited after the war, I have a special insight into the area and its people.

Red Sky in the Morning explains the early history relating to and conquest of the Philippines. Phil’s post WWII service in the Merchant Marines and later with the JAVA CHINA Trading company is interesting; post WWII war surplus in the Philippines at bargain prices, including ships surprised me. The manipulation by various entities to advance their personal gain is evident. The intrigue involving investigations by various Philippine and US government officials into Phil’s and other’s activities are fascinating. Phil’s efforts to go into the logging business on Bataan was an effort to succeed in an atmosphere of intrigue and handicaps doomed for failure. Phil’s imprisonment at Bilibid prison and his escape is miraculous. I recommend this book for all history buffs and entrepreneurs.

Everett D. Reamer


Note: Everett D. Reamer is a survivor of the Bataan/Corregidor Death March, and was held at Bilibid prison briefly during the forced march to Cabanatuan. He is a former National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Currently retired, Everett and his wife, Bernice Cole Reamer, divide their time between their homes in Cleves, Ohio and Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Commander Reamer was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army as a Corporal, and was the recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with three Presidential Citations. Upon his return to civilian life, he served as a maintenance supervisor for National Steel, and was a production supervisor for General Motors. Featured in numerous interviews, news articles, and magazine, and the author of his own memoirs, Sanity Gone Amuck, and Unconquerable Faith, he is a much sought after speaker. In 1992, he was the subject of an ABC Nightly News special on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Corregidor. Additionally, he is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records for being forced to stand motionless during his 132 hours of torture.

Click here to see Everett’s interview at the Rutgers Oral History Archives.

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by Phil

New Video Interview

November 29, 2009 in Documentary Films, History, Red Sky, WWII

Due to efforts of friends, I am now featured on YouTube. Particular thanks to Dan and Sylvie Traub. Dan asked me all the right questions, while both he and Sylvie together performed the duties of director, cameraman, and stage hands. I think they did a great job! I hope you enjoy the video. It is presented here in two parts since Youtube now has a 10 minute limit per video. Thank you Dan and Sylvie, for doing such a great job! Phil



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YouTube Preview Image

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by Phil


November 1, 2009 in Phil & Friends, Red Sky


“Visually, the Philippines were a tropical paradise, at least when viewed from afar. The up close and tactile experience however, was another matter. In Manila, men could be seen openly urinating in the streets … knife fights and gunplay were so commonplace that every restaurant, bar, or nightclub displayed signs admonishing patrons before entering to, ‘Check Your Guns Here’ …I was in the Orient, but it was more like the Wild Wild West…”

November 1, 2009

Redondo Beach

Since returning home from the Philippines late in 1947, I’ve had an ambition to publish a book telling of my experiences. I am happy to report, that dream is finally realized. When I first arrived in Manila, just ten days after my 21st birthday, it didn’t take long for me to see that when society breaks down, the primitive nature of man triumphs over any civilized behaviors of well-ordered society.

Red Sky in the morning

Red Sky in the morning

There was more going on than just the needs of survival, which a free spirited ‘California boy’ might have expected, but the combined forces of avarice and lethargy had produced a kind of societal depravity I could scarcely have imagined considering my life and moral upbringing from early childhood.

Visually, the Philippines were a tropical paradise, at least when viewed from afar. The up close and tactile experience however, was another matter. In Manila, men could be seen openly urinating in the streets, young boys soliciting their sisters for prostitution. Knife fights and gunplay were so commonplace that every restaurant, bar, or nightclub, displayed signs admonishing patrons before entering to, “Check Your Guns Here” …I was in the Orient, but it was more like the Wild Wild West.

Later I learned that everyone was “on the take,” including government officials who openly solicited payoffs before granting whatever one needed. To make matters worse, Americans who were there to “rebuild” the nation were too often, taking part in the institutional debauchery. Our homeward bound GI’s who had fought and won the war, were being replaced by young hastily trained soldiers who also seemed to slip into the overall depravity of the times.

With too much time on their hands, and the comparative wealth of GI pay in their pockets, our boys were committing every kind of mischief imaginable, and raising great enmity from among the natives. America’s fighting forces are the most dedicated, and the best in the world at doing their job. Their job is winning wars, and when the war is over, they should never be expected to become civilian police or babysitters to profiteering politicians seeking to make names for themselves parading in and out of the affairs and lands of the people of former war zones.

In the Philippines after WWII, we would have been better off, and I believe, better liked today if we had left without spending a cent on foreign aid. Everything we did after Japan’s surrender only diminished the goodwill we had established fighting side by side as brothers and allies of Filipinos. This is the message I have worked so long and hard to deliver, and I think Sterling and Peggy Seagrave have delivered well with Red Sky. Let us know what you think.

Best regards to all,

Phil Mehan

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