From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
35 From the EditorsArea Missions Are Part of Living History (with 2017 update)Downtown El Paso is Monument to Anson Mills (with 2017 update)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio (with 2017 update)The Magic of Mariachis (with 2017 update)New Generation of Mariachis (with 2017 update)Looking Back at the Chile PepperMen Behind the Chile Pepper (with 2017 update)Hot Peppers: They're Not Just for EatingEl Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations (with 2017 update)Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Serves El Paso County (with 2017 update)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso into a Health Center (with 2017 update)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assault (with 2017 update)Company E Survivor Recalls Days as Prisoner of War (with 2017 update)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers (with 2017 update)
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Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors

Article first published in Vol. 25, 2006.

By Jackie Ellithorpe, Mike Chisum, Roman Sandoval and Adrianna Alatorre

Just a few hours after attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese forces struck Clark Field in the Philippines, wiping out U. S. air power. American and Filipino troops began withdrawing south to the Bataan Peninsula. General Douglas MacArthur directed operations from Corregidor, the island across the peninsula. About 200,000 Japanese forces invaded the island of Luzon, where 10,000 Americans resisted them for almost four months. When he was ordered to Australia in March 1942, MacArthur vowed, “I shall return."

Image caption: Young Filipino boy and Julio Barela are shown on a water buffalo before the Japanese took Barela prisoner.  Photo courtesy of Anita Dawson

The Americans, with little food and ammunition, gave the Japanese a good fight, but General Edward King, who commanded the Luzon forces, knowing he was outmanned and outgunned, finally was ordered to surrender.

On April 8, 1942, the Japanese took 70,000 Filipino and American men prisoners on Luzon. Most of the men suffered from malnutrition and disease. Some were so sick that upon capture they were either shot or bayoneted. Those who could walk had no choice but to do the best they could or be victims of their Japanese captors.

Sources say from 10,000 to 15,000 men died on what has become known as the Bataan Death March, a transfer from Mariveles in the Bataan Peninsula to Camp O'Donnell, a former Filipino training camp. Another 23,500 died at Camp O'Donnell, victims of starvation, disease and cruelty at the hands of the Japanese. Among these prisoners were members of the New Mexico 200th Coast Artillery, a National Guard unit, and the 515th Artillery, consisting of 500 men of the 200th who were sent to Manila.

Harry Steengo to top

Bataan survivor William P. Skelton of New Mexico writes, “The 200th Coast Artillery had a heavy representation of Hispanic officers and enlisted men included in the death march and they had been selected because of their combat readiness and because of the many men who spoke Spanish, a principal language of the Philippines.”

The unit also included Native Americans who used their native languages for military communications, a technique used later in the war by the Navajo code talkers. The Japanese were unable to break these codes.
Image caption: Harry Steen still remembers Bataan.   Photo courtesy of Harry Steen.
Harry Steen, who had been drafted in April 1941 while he lived in Albuquerque, is one of the survivors of the 200th Coast Artillery. In a 1992 interview for a Canadian university, he recalled the march: “All the way out we saw hundreds of corpses, Americans, on the side of the road lying dead. The stench was just horrible.” The men walked without water for days and had no protection from the sun because all excess gear  such as hats or helmets were either confiscated or destroyed. “If a guy would happen to fall out or fall down … you'd either hear a shot or a scream,” Steen said.

According to Steen, after marching part of the way to Camp O'Donnell, the men were put on trains leaving the town of San Fernando located in west central Luzon. “From there we got on these metal boxcars. You talk about hot, Holy Christ! They put about 100 of us in where about 50 could have been. You couldn't fall down because you were standing so close together that if a guy fainted he just stood there until the doors opened after we got to Capas, which was … three or four hours.” The men walked the remainder of the way to Camp O'Donnell.

Steen avoided death when he fainted from the effects of malaria upon arrival at the camp. Had he fallen during the march, he would have been shot or bayoneted immediately. Two months later, Steen and others were transferred to Cabanatuan Prison Camp in central Luzon. Steen suffered not only from malaria but dysentery and remained hospitalized in the zero wards (isolation wards of dying men) in the camp at Cabanatuan. 

Always hungry or sick, Steen and the other prisoners found ways to survive, eating anything they could find: plants, bugs, and once, a stray dog. Steen later went to Niigata, Japan, aboard one of the infamous “hell ships.” There he worked with other prisoners as slave labor in a coal yard. After three years of hell, Steen returned home weighing about 90 pounds. He arrived in San Francisco in October 1945. After spending time in a hospital in Santa Fe, he was discharged from Fort Bliss on May 10, 1946. He now is in his 80s and lives in East El Paso.

Julio T. Barela's account of the Bataan Death March and subsequent experience as a POW were recorded by his daughter Anita Dawson on Feb. 24, 2006, for this story. Barela was raised in San Ysidro, a small community north of Las Cruces. He left home at 16 to enlist in the Navy because he always had wanted to travel around the world. But his mother found out and followed him to California where she told officials her son was underage, and she brought him home. The Army drafted Barela on May 14, 1941. He trained at Fort Bliss where he and several men were merged with the New Mexico National Guard unit known as the 200th Coast Artillery, Battery A.

Shipped to the Philippines, Barela was assigned to Clark Field on a searchlight crew. The Japanese  destroyed Clark Field in 40 minutes. Barela recalled, “The smoke was so thick it turned day into night.” General King ordered the men to go to the mountains of Mariveles on the Bataan Peninsula of Luzon. When food ran out, the men ate water buffalo and horses until they were gone.

With no ammunition, little food and many men sick, General King surrendered.

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Barela said, “We formed a long line and waved white t-shirts.” The Japanese thought that surrender was disgraceful; in their eyes, it was suicide that was honorable. “My mother brought me up in the Catholic religion. I was taught that to take one's life is a mortal sin,” Barela said, noting the difference in values of the Japanese and the Americans. Barela remembered that any soldier found with Japanese souvenirs was shot and killed.

“The Japanese put us in a large area in the jungle and their tanks and machine guns were positioned on us. I thought they were going to kill us. Then a large earthquake hit and all their tanks pointed away from us and their guns fell,” Barela said. The Japanese then ordered the men, wounded, sick and starving, to march to Camp O'Donnell.

“We were slapped, pushed, beaten and yelled at while we marched. If we slowed down, they would hit us with the butt of their rifles. I was hit often, and it made walking so much harder. Once you fell, you would be bayoneted and shot, sometimes beheaded,” recalled Barela.

Barela said, “During the march we would come upon heads on poles which the Japanese had put there so we could see what would happen to us if we fell or spoke back or looked at them with hate.” Barela thought about his mother and how she would suffer if he died. He almost fell several times from exhaustion and pain caused by his bleeding feet. “Then I would remember her and the prayers she would say for me, and this gave me the courage to continue on.”

The 200th Coast Artillery was a very close unit, and the men all helped each other to walk. “We were all brothers,” Barela said. Colonel Zeke Ortiz, a New Mexico National Guard historian, said only 40 men from the 200th died in the months leading up to the Bataan Death March, and according to Ortiz, none of the men died on the march either. However, hundreds would die at Camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan, on the Japanese hell ships and in locations where they worked as slaves. Of the more than 1,800 who went to the Philippines, only about half returned.

Occasionally on the march, the men would see grass or a banana peel on the road. Barela said, “I encouraged my friend David Tellez to chew on this and it would create some moisture in our mouths.”  The march was about 65 miles long and took five days because of the sick and wounded and the effects of hot weather (more than 100 degrees and high humidity) and little or no water.

Many of the men had malaria and dysentery. “I saw a lot of death and suffering,” Barela said. “The village people were shot, set on fire and beheaded for trying to help us.”

At the end of the march, Barela and the other survivors were stuffed into boxcars where many suffocated. After time at Camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan, Barela was shipped on one of the hell ships to Japan where he landed in a prison camp in Niigata. He was a prisoner for three and one-half years.

The Japanese took pictures of some of their prisoners to show the outside world how well they were treated. Barela was shaved by a fellow POW who made a razor from an aluminum can. He tried to shape a mustache on Barela, who also pulled his long hair back and braided it so it would look short.

David Tellez, Bataan Survivor, POWThe clothes Barela wore in the photograph were only loaned to him for the occasion. In reality, the men had few clothes, only rags barely covering them, and no shoes. Barela had weighed between 150 and 160 pounds before becoming a POW. When he was liberated, he weighed only 80. Barela and his wife now live in Las Cruces.

Some of the men stayed in Cabanatuan only for a short time and then ended up in Manchuria, in northeastern China, such as Private David Tellez, also of Battery A, 200th Coast Artillery. In a January 2006 phone interview with Borderlands, Tellez said he volunteered to join the Army on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, and trained at Fort Bliss before leaving for the Philippines. He fought the Japanese up until his capture; the last order General MacArthur gave was to “keep fighting until the last man,” recalled Tellez. When MacArthur departed for Australia, things went from bad to worse.

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Image caption:  David Tellez returned to his family in 1945 after more than three years as a POW.   Photo courtesy of David Tellez

Tellez remained on the Bataan Peninsula for six months and worked burial duty at Cabanatuan. Afterwards he went to Manila where he, too, would board one of the Japanese hell ships. The unmarked transports were attacked by U. S. air and naval forces, resulting in thousands of POWs dying in the holds of these ships.

Conditions aboard ship were horrendous. Tellez remembers that the hold he was kept in was so cramped that in order to sleep, the men had to get into a line, each with another man sitting between his legs, and lean on the chest of the man behind. Packed like sardines in a can, 500 men were crammed into a space meant for 100. Prohibited from going topside, Tellez and his companions endured the 31-day voyage, leaving Manila on Oct. 8, 1942, and arriving in Korea on Nov. 8. He was then transported to Manchuria.

When asked what type of diseases he contracted during his imprisonment at Cabanatuan and in Manchuria, he replied, “You name it, I had it.” Tellez said that, sick and starving, he longed for the war to end, but he knew it to be wishful thinking.

In Manchuria, he worked as a barber although he had never cut hair before. He recalled the day that a buddy of his, a friend from Ohio, insisted he cut his hair with a pair of snub nose children's scissors. “Four or five guys crowded around us so the Japanese guards would not catch us with scissors,” Tellez said. Being caught with anything that could be considered a weapon meant certain death. Tellez did such a good job that the commanding officer, a full colonel from Deming, asked him to cut his hair as well. Maintaining any semblance of normality in appearance and behavior was important in retaining one's sanity.

Tellez said upon the return of the 200th stateside, the unit was only half its original size. Out of the 1,800 that had gone to the Philippines, only about 900 survived. Skin and bones when rescued, Tellez weighed 88 pounds. He gained 40 pounds before reuniting with his family. Tellez said that at that time he felt “very happy, very lucky.” Tellez now lives in Las Cruces with his wife.

Las Cruces bronze sculpture honoring Bataan soldiersIn April 2001, an eight-foot bronze sculpture entitled “Heroes of Bataan” and created by Kelly Hestir was dedicated in Las Cruces to veterans of the Bataan Death March. The bronze shows two POWs holding up another as they make the march. This memorial is the only federally funded monument to honor the defenders of Bataan. In front of and behind the bronze are casts of footprints of 38 survivors, including those of Steen, Barela and Tellez. Visitors are invited to honor local and other POWs at this memorial located in Veterans Park along Roadrunner Parkway.

Image caption: Las Cruces bronze honoring Bataan soldiers shows one looking back at the past, another down at the present and a third ahead to the future. Photo by April Vise

Besides monuments in New Mexico and other states, the Bataan defenders are also honored by several memorials in the Republic of the Philippines, among them one at Camp O'Donnell and another at Subic Bay, which is dedicated to the thousands of POWs who were transported by the Japanese hell ships to serve as slave labor. April 9 is a national day of remembrance in the Philippines.

Editor's note: Lorenzo Banegas, also a survivor from Las Cruces, wrote a corrido about the POW experience. He died on Dec. 15, 2001, without knowing that his ballad would be included in a Smithsonian exhibit in Washington, D. C., in 2002.

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Tags: Biography


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