Bataan march 'amazing to see'

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,

The account by L. M. Dougherty of the start of the Bataan Memorial Death March ceremony this year at White Sands made Monitor readers feel the experience in the early morning light. Since its founding in 1989, the growth to this years’ 4,500 hikers wanting to commemorate the heroism and survival of American and Filipino defenders of the Philippines was amazing to see.I participated on the sidelines, cheering on the hikers at the starting line, then greeting and taking pictures of survivors after the hikers departed and of the 18 survivors who were honored by the closing ceremony later in the day. My pilgrimage to share the experiences of these and New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery Regiment occurred last January, when I joined a tour of the Military Historic Tours Inc. I, with two dozen other Americans, visited Manila, Bataan, Corregidor, Subic Bay, Clark Air Base (where Colin Kelly Jr. lost his life), the camps O’Donnell and Cabanatuan (where more than two dozen New Mexicans were rescued by the 6th Army rangers), Lingayen Gulf, and railroad stations where the marchers were herded so many to a box car that many suffocated.We had four World War II veterans with us, one of whom had survived two POW camps, a Hell Ship and Palawan Island camp. He told us many stories. The others told us where they had been assigned and of their rescue. After we visited Cabanatuan Camp and saw where the Filipinos held the Japanese forces at Cabu Bridge, we watched, on the bus back to our hotel, the two-hour documentary “Colors of Courage” filmed by the son of a New Mexico survivor of two of the New Mexican men in my book “Silent Voices.” There were no dry eyes in that bus full of retired military and the same local guide who took both groups around the Philippines to the historic sites. The New Mexico National Guardsmen of WWII caught in the Philippines were the first to fire and last to lay down their arms, so their contribution was great. Because the tour helped me understand the experiences told in my book, I gladly helped at the booth of the Military Historic Tours during the memorial march. They will go again next January. I highly recommend it.Nancy R. Bartlit Los Alamos