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Alfonso Apdal Amos

MM1, U.S. Navy

The mighty U.S.S. Kitty Hawk traveled rough cold waters of the Pacific on the night Alfonso Apdal Amos disappeared.

Days before, Typhoon Zeb had materialized in the Philippine Sea, picking up moisture, speed and strength over the warm water's surface. In four days, it would swell to super typhoon status to become one of the largest storms of the 1998 typhoon season. With maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) the storm reached its apex on October 14, 1998. The next day the biblical force of nature would continue its path and crash into, Luzon, the Philippines's most populous island and location of Alfonso's birth.
 
Petty Officer Amos probably knew of the storm. As a career sailor with eighteen years of service in the United States Navy and at least two with the Philippine Army, he had seen countless storms in his life. The ship to which he was assigned, the USS Kitty Hawk, was no different. At nearly forty years of active service in the fleet, dodging, weathering, or cutting through storms was a common occurrence for, at the time, America's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
 
The storm known as Typhon Iliang in the Philippines- ripped through the islands, destroying homes and infrastructure, while causing floods, landslides and widespread crop destruction. Total damage estimates were around $126 million USD ($219 million in 2022), a disastrous figure.
 
After passing the Philippines, the massive storm weakened over Taiwan as it cut a boomerang path north toward Japan. By October 17, the USS Kitty Hawk skirted the gale force zephyrs of the storm, riding the chop of the frothing sea as it reached the coordinates 25o 49.3N, 134o 13.2E. A location in the open ocean 303 kilometers (188 miles) from the nearest land and 1,213 kilometers (754 miles) from its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. Alfonso's duty station at the time.
 
On the evening of October 17, Petty Officer Amos was scheduled to stand watch -a common duty for many enlisted sailors at sea- from 2000 to 0000 hours.
Unbeknownst to his fellow shipmates shuffling about performing routine duties or sleeping and his wife and three children back at Yokosuka, probably winding down for the evening; it would be his final watch.