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On Dec. 15, 2011, honoring the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan (April 2012) and the subsequent death march, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) proposed legislation to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
The next day, Congressman Martin Heinrich (D-NM) proposed similar legislation in the House of Representatives — H.R. 3712.
One inspiration for this action was the documentary, “Tragedy of Bataan.” As an adjunct to “Tragedy of Bataan.” New Mexico PBS has produced a half-hour program with some of the survivors of the surrender of Bataan.
In conjunction with the anniversary week of the fall of Bataan, New Mexico PBS presents a new, hour-long program, “Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration,” premiering at 7 p.m. April 12 and repeating at 5 p.m. April 15.
New Mexico PBS, in cooperation with Jan Thompson, produced “Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration.”
The National Education Telecommunications Association will distribute the program nationally to member PBS stations in May, with a suggested broadcast on May 28.
Just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery (anti-aircraft) was the “first to fire” on the enemy.
That night, in order to provide anti-aircraft protection for Manila, the Regiment was split, forming the 515th Coast Artillery, the first battle-born unit of World War II.
New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units were in place on Bataan at the time of the surrender. Some of the members of these and other units survived the infamous Bataan Death March and are alive today.
New Mexico PBS captured the stories of some of these last remaining survivors.
Udall opens the hour, by introducing the documentary and panel discussion.
He also talks about the significance of the 70th anniversary and the bill he is sponsoring that will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the defenders of Bataan. The full half-hour documentary, “Tragedy of Bataan” follows.
At its conclusion, a 30-minute studio-based program relates some of the stories unique to the heroes of Bataan and to understanding the import of the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, including interviews with Pedro “Pete” Gonzalez and William Overmier, two of the last remaining Bataan defenders, and Edward D. Baca, lieutenant general, USA (retired), former chief of the National Guard Bureau and spokesman for Bataan’s defenders.
Funding for this program was provided in part by Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and Food For Thought (“Tragedy of Bataan”) Albuquerque Wholesale; and New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum.