As our nation pays tribute to our military on Veteran’s Day, New Mexicans remember the Bataan Death March. On April 9, 1942 the 200th Coast Artillery became prisoners of war. They joined 75,000 soldiers in the arduous sixty-mile march to a prison camp in Luzon in the Philippines. Without sufficient food and water many of the soldiers were bayoneted to death. Others fell behind from exhaustion. The walk known as the Bataan Death March claimed the lives of 16,950 American and Filipino soldiers. Over 900 New Mexicans from the 200th Coast Artillery died during the march.
Honoring the Heroes of the Bataan Death March
New Mexico’s veterans of the Bataan Death are honored each spring at the annual White Sands Bataan Death March Marathon. People from around the world join together in the desert at White Sands to participate in the anniversary of one of the most tragic casualties of World War II. Both civilians and military personnel carrying heavy backpacks through the desert terrain have the option of doing either the 15.4 or 26.2-mile hike that begins at 6:30 AM. The New Mexico National Guard sets up relief tents to aid the walkers who return from their journey dehydrated and with blisters on their feet. There maladies are but an inkling of what the soldiers must have endured during the arduous sixty-mile march in 1942.