The Chronicles Of Grant County

bataan statue visit las cruces 50“Heroes of Bataan” is a memorial located in Veterans Park in Las Cruces. In its description of the Bataan Death March, Visit Las Cruces noted that this was “…one of the most brutal chapters in American military history.” (The photo was provided courtesy of Visit Las Cruces.)

As we celebrate our freedom and the independence of the United States of America today, it’s important that we recall a saying that “Freedom is not Free.”

We should remember how New Mexico helped secure the freedom that some people in Grant County may take for granted at times. The price paid was high. For the men who served in the uniform of our nation. Men from both the U S and the Philippines. And for their families and loved ones. It’s a price we should never forget.

On Memorial Day, the edition of The Chronicles Of Grant County highlighted the life of one of the men who survived the Bataan Death March. Thomas Foy was one of a number of New Mexicans who served our country during World War II. He was among the troops captured by the Japanese in the Philippines, forced to walk about sixty miles through the Bataan Death March, and was held as a Prisoner of War until his release.

While the distance is great in terms of miles, there is a closeness between Bataan and New Mexico that years have not diminished.

“Tens of thousands of Americans and Filipinos – including many New Mexicans – demonstrated incredible and courageous fortitude during the Bataan Death March,” stated Martin Heinrich, U S Senator for New Mexico, in a news release dated April 9, 2021. This document highlighted proposed legislation supported by him, Senator Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, and others – both Republican and Democratic – within the U S Senate. “We must never forget their undaunted heroism in the face of unthinkable conditions and horrific abuses.”

“America owes its Bataan veterans a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid,” said Senator Luján. “These brave soldiers demonstrated courage in the face of captivity and inhumanity.”

bataan survivors dedication of park in grant county 2008 mary alice murphy 20Grant County operates a park – in the process of being updated – named in the memory of those who served the people of the United States and the Philippines. Several survivors of the Bataan Death March and family members are seen here attending the dedication of the Bataan Memorial Recreational Park in Grant County approximately 13 years ago. This park is located just outside of the limits of Santa Clara, off of Fort Bayard Road. (The photograph was provided courtesy of Mary Alice Murphy, 2008.)

Grant County operates a park – in the process of being updated – named in the memory of those who served the people of the United States and the Philippines. Several survivors of the Bataan Death March are seen here attending the dedication of the Bataan Memorial Recreational Park in Grant County approximately 13 years ago. This park is located just outside of the limits of Santa Clara, off of Fort Bayard Road. (The photograph was provided courtesy of Mary Alice Murphy, 2008.)

“On December 8, 1941, hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers attacked U S military stations in the Philippines,” the news release detailed. “Despite being cut off from supply lines and reinforcements, thousands of American and Filipino forces mounted a courageous, months-long defense of the Bataan Peninsula and then Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. This brave defense changed the momentum of the war, delaying the Japanese conquest of the Philippines and providing the Allied Forces with critical time to mount a campaign to liberate the Pacific.”

“On April 9, 1942, after the Battle of Bataan, approximately 75,000 troops from both the United States and the Philippines were taken prisoner by the Japanese,” the news release continued. “They were forced to endure a torturous march of more than 60 miles that came to be known as the ‘Bataan Death March’ to prison camps throughout the Philippines. The marchers endured intense tropical heat without food, water, or medical care. An estimated 10,000 men – including thousands of Filipinos and hundreds of Americans – died from starvation, exhaustion, and abuse.”

“Survivors of the Bataan Death March were held captive in Japanese prison camps for [more than] three years, where they were subject to further torture, undernourishment, and forced labor,” noted the Senators in this news release. “Others died when they were transported out of the Philippines, by way of unmarked Japanese Navy ‘hell ships’ that were targeted by Allied Forces. Out of the 1,816 New Mexico National Guardsmen in the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery who were originally sent to defend the Philippines in the Fall of 1941, 829 never returned home.”

Let me repeat that:

“Out of the 1,816 New Mexico National Guardsmen…sent to defend the Philippines…829 never returned home.”

A memorial to all of these men – “Heroes of Bataan” – is located in Veterans Park in Las Cruces; this was the country’s first federally-funded monument honoring American and Filipino veterans of the Bataan Death March. This monument was dedicated on April 13, 2002, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bataan Death March.

“Entangled in one another’s arms, three soldiers stand in eternal tribute to the 70,000 men that braved the treacherous journey…,” noted Visit Las Cruces. “These larger-than-life bronze statues represent the oft-forgotten American and Filipino soldiers who hiked the Bataan Peninsula, the 50,000 who survived and the thousands of others who did not.”

According to a statement from Visit Las Cruces, “Artist Kelley S. Hestir, who was commissioned to create the monument, said “‘Heroes of Bataan’ portrays Filipino and American prisoners of war entwined in their struggle to survive the Death March. They look back to what has passed, down to what is present and ahead to what might be. The many footprints which surround the statue are symbolic of the many soldiers who began the march and the few who finished. The impressions were made from the feet of those who survived.”

Take a moment today to remember the men of Bataan. The men from New Mexico, from the rest of the U S, and from the Philippines. The men who survived the Bataan Death March. The men who died and the men who were murdered along the route. Recall the sacrifices of those who served, those who survived, and those who perished. Keep their families and loved ones in your prayers.

Our Independence Day is based on freedom.

Remember always: “Freedom is not Free.”

(Photo from 1942)

The caption for this photo was listed by the U S Department of Defense as “The March of Death - Taken during the March of Death, from Bataan to Cabana Tuan Prison Camp.” (The photo was provided courtesy of the U S Marine Corps through The U S National Archives and Records Administration, May of 1942.)

Do you have questions about communities in Grant County?

A street name? A building?

Your questions may be used in a future news column.

Contact Richard McDonough at chroniclesofgrantcounty@mail.com.

If your email does not go through, please contact editor@grantcountybeat.com.

© 2021 Richard McDonough

bataan death march u s marine corps national archives two may 1942 50The caption for this photo was listed by the U S Department of Defense as “The March of Death - Taken during the March of Death, from Bataan to Cabana Tuan Prison Camp.” (The photo was provided courtesy of the U S Marine Corps through The U S National Archives and Records Administration, May of 1942.)

Do you have questions about communities in Grant County?

A street name? A building?

Your questions may be used in a future news column.

Contact Richard McDonough at chroniclesofgrantcounty@mail.com.

If your email does not go through, please contact editor@grantcountybeat.com.

© 2021 Richard McDonough

Click to search the Beat Click to search the Beat

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

Please Note in Classifieds a dog looking for a home. And now a well-loved cat is looking for a home.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

  • The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option at the top of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Go to Top