Eutiquiano "Ettie" Mangilit Gomez, a retired naval Chief Petty Officer who saw action in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean conflict, Viet Nam, and was a member of the first submarine crew to surface in the polar cap, returned home to our Lord on Monday June 30th in Chula Vista. He was 89.
Ettie's remarkable legacy began at 19 when his sense of adventure and the allure of America led him to enlist as a sailor in the US Navy. During his 22 years in uniform, he continued to advance in rank and ascended to the position of Chief Petty Officer/Steward. In charge of the culinary baking school at San Diego Naval Training Center (then located at what is today Liberty Station), he instructed young recruits on the requisite skills of the kitchen and in particular how to bake bread.
In his 20's he met a beautiful and vivacious young Panamanian woman, Celia Maria Guerra Caesar who later would become his wife. Their lifelong love for one another is represented in the six children that their union produced. Eddie Charles (Jr.) of San Diego, Michael Joseph of Corona Del Mar, Gregory Phillipe of Mt. Helix, Rebecca Mary of Temecula, Glenn Dominic of Laguna Niguel, and Eric Christian of San Diego. Eric Christian followed in his father's culinary footsteps and today is chef/proprietor of Wet Stone Wine Bar & Restaurant in Bankers Hill. In addition to his children, he is survived by son-in-law, Shawn Brudzinski, daughter-in-laws Felice Gomez, Barbara Gomez, and Gini Gomez. Grandchildren Kristopher, Karla, and Lucia (great-grandchild) Saenz, Nicole, Sawyer, and Jamerson (great-grandchildren) Gomez, Alexis, Alana, and Lorenzo Gomez, Kelly, Sophia, and Nicholas Gomez, Ashley Brudzinski, and Gabriel Halvor Gomez. Ettie was also a dedicated family man, uncle, and God-parent to numerous other significant family members that included brother and sister in-laws: Jess and Mercy Wilson, Ben and Cathy Salvacion, Julio and Helen Caesar, and Jorge and Frances Lerma.
Four years a widower and now in his later 50s, Ettie married his second wife, Evangelina Obregon. Their marriage produced a seventh child, Roman Gabriel. Roman followed in his father's footsteps and joined the military. Ettie enjoyed sharing the stories of having a son at the military academy at West Point. Upon returning home from the academy, Roman continues to emulate his father's passion for food as a member of Solare Restaurant's management team.
Ettie held court with family and friends. If you visited his Chula Vista home he could always be found in the kitchen whistling tunes that he loved as he showcased his culinary talents. He offered ongoing lessons in how to produce the perfect Parker roll, Saturday morning pancakes from scratch, or the secrets of preparing the best holiday turkey or ham. Old school at heart when in the kitchen, he disdained electric cutting knives and always could produce sliced meats and foods with a chef's touch in record time. He preferred his salads with homemade dressings and meats prepared medium rare. In addition to family, regular visitors to the Gomez home in the 60's included former mahjong partner and middleweight boxing champion Ceferino Garcia, a fellow pinoy. Television icon Regis Philbin, a shipmate of Ettie's, was so impressed by his Duty, Honor, and Country character that he pays tribute to him in several pages of his latest book Regis Philbin: How I Got This Way.
Etties hobbies included a zeal for international travel having explored Italy, Israel, Asia, and Europe. He was keen to note the commonalities that all humans share. His love for his family would find him at family gatherings during all of the major holidays, Christmas and Easter being two of his favorites. Along with wife Celia, they enjoyed and danced to the tunes from the great American Songbook favoring artists Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney and company. Ettie was also a lifetime fitness enthusiast. He continued to visit the gym three times a week and play 18 holes of golf with eldest son Eddie and nephew Jess on what he considered his "special Thursdays." For the last 12 years he participated in annual wine-trips with his children, a highpoint in their collective lives.
At the age of 82 and once again single, Ettie married one final time to Luz Macasaquit of Pampanga, The Philippines. Together they enjoyed conversing in the Kapampangan language and covering all things Filipino. He took great pride in following the feats of world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao and always could be counted upon to be in the company of his children cheering on the pugilist whenever a Pacquiao fight was on. One of his favorite books Scent of Apples by Filipino author Bienvenido Santos recounts the story of an immigrant's longing for home. Though Ettie called America his adopted new home for over 70 years, he never forgot his roots. He was proud of his Filipino ancestry and enjoyed frequent visits to the islands. His marriage to Luz was a special point in his life.
If there is any truth to Victor Hugo's saying, "To love another person is to see the face of God" then Ettie no doubt recognized the familiar countenance on the day of his transition. He loved people and the gifts of living in this life. His survivors profoundly miss him.