Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bataan Survivors, Gray and Stooped, Proud and Unbowed in 2012

From the April 9, 2012, Alamogordo (N.M.) News by Milan Simonich.

Don "Nano" Lucero traveled from his home in Maine one last time to see his buddies who, like him, had survived the infamous Bataan Death March 70 years ago and are still here.

And, there are not many of them left any more.

There are six New Mexico veterans of it.  They met at the Bataan Memorial Building.

They saw fellow prisoners shot for simply not keeping up.  U.S. and Filipino soldiers were bayoneted for trying to sneak a drink of water.  Many were walking skeletons after liberation due to the march and slave labor camps they worked at for the duration of the war (The March was in 1942).

Mr. Lucero, then 20, describes it as "hell on earth."

Some 12,000 Americans and 63,000 Filipino soldiers dug in when the Japanese attack on the Philippines began on the same day as Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Among them were 1,800 Americans from New Mexico from the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery regiments who were called the New Mexico Brigade.

They fought on until finally forced to surrender April 9, 1942, after running out of pretty much everything.  It is estimated that between 7,000 to 10,000 died during the march alone.

--GreGen

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