The family of Bataan Death March survivor Pablo Gutierrez, who died last year, celebrated his memory with the presentation by Congressman Steve Pearce of an American flag flown over the Washington D.C. Capitol. They are from left, Jessica Dominguez, Ruth Garcia, Denisha Castillo, Pearce, Rosemary Gutierrez (Pablo's daughter), Sal Beltrán, Tina and Fred Martinez.
Congressman Steve Pearce on Tuesday around noon visited the Silver/Bayard VFW Post 3347 and presented a flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. to Rosemary Gutierrez, the daughter of the last Grant County survivor of the Bataan Death March, Pablo Gutierrez, who died last year.
"Today we are honoring and celebrating the human spirit," Pearce said. "I told my staff I wanted to honor his memory. Too often we fail to honor the heroes among us."
He presented the certificate of the flag having flown over the Capitol to Pablo Gutierrez's granddaughter Denisha Castillo. Pearce presented the flag to Rosemary Gutierrez, and the whole family gathered to hold the flag.
"Pablo was a very gentle man," Tina Martinez said. "He was very kind to me, an in-law. He loved his family."
One of Pablo's nieces said her uncle was a good man. Another called him a great man..
Sal Beltrán said he, too, had been a veteran, and one year spent Cinco de Mayo in Vietnam in Bien Hoa. "Pablo never talked about the war. I found out later that he and Tom Foy were in Bataan."
Rosemary Gutierrez said her father never spoke about Bataan, because it was a painful memory. "He couldn't talk about it. He lived every day with the pain and torture he experienced, but he forgave them. Out-of-town people would see the POW on his hat and would shake his hand. He would cry. I dealt with his flashbacks. My children always helped me keep him at home, where he wanted to be. My father was a quiet man. Towards the end of his life, I had him more in the public eye, but he would relive his experiences. I would tell people not to ask him about Bataan."
She commended Gila Regional Medical Center staff for always going out of their way to help him. "They brought him to Fort Bayard last year for the Memorial Day services. All veterans are very important to me.
Castillo said she researched about what "Grandpa went through. I was not surprised that he didn't talk about it. He was amazing and rose above it."