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 Medal of Honor recipient Raymond G. Jerry Murphy Sonny Rivera ©2008

"The Battling Bastards of Bataan"

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle vastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

¡Bienvenido!

BATAAN VETERANS

Tom Udall

U.S. Representative Third Congressional District

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

February 8, 2008

Contact:  Marissa Padilla

202.225.6190

202.225.1213

Marissa.Padilla@mail.house.gov

 

UDALL BILL WOULD AWARD CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO BATAAN WAR VETS

 

WASHINGTON - More than 66 years after one of the darkest periods in World War II, U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., has proudly introduced legislation to collectively bestow Bataan Death March veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal. 

Udall, whose own state of New Mexico saw only half of the 1,800 soldiers deployed to this region return, said "This is an honor we should have bestowed on these brave veterans years ago. Like my father who served in WWII and just turned 88-years-old, the surviving veterans are in their 80s and 90s. We owe them and those who have already left this world - either marching to Bataan or thereafter - a proper tribute for their extraordinary valor."

Under Udall's bill, a collective medal would be awarded to the American soldiers involved. It would be housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and upon request made available for ceremonies and events commemorating the march.

One distinguished group in favor of the legislation is the Senior Military Officers from New Mexico. In a letter to Udall, Generals Leo Montoya, Edward Baca, Melvyn Montano, Gene Chavez and Kenny Montoya wrote, "The 'Battling Bastards of Bataan' as they are affectionately called, have not received the nation's recognition deserved to other ethnic groups in WWII."

The Generals also noted the historic exclusion of Hispanic war veterans, "from not only recognition for their performance in combat, but for participation in our nation's wars and conflicts. Hispanics participated in WWII with an estimated 500,000 members of our armed forces. Prior to the Korean conflict the U.S. Armed Forces did not officially track members by their ethnicity and the number of Hispanics participating in WWII is closer to 800,000."

Last fall, Udall received a letter from the New Mexican Hispanic Cultural Preservation League that urged him to introduce the legislation to honor the veterans of Bataan. The NMHCPL has continued to be a driving force behind the legislation. 

"The New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League is dedicated to correcting omissions of valor and honor to the historical records and we are pleased that Rep. Tom Udall is helping us with this project," said Conchita Lucero, NMHCPL President Emeritus." The Bataan veterans walked in the shadows and are examples of our ancestors who fought to help the 13 colonies gain Independence but have been over looked in American History. New Mexico lost more men per capita than any other state in WWII. The 200th, and later the 515th, was named the best anti-aircraft regiment in the U.S. Army in 1941 and they were the first to fire on the Japanese after the attack at Pearl Harbor."

Udall said he was compelled to introduce the legislation, in part, to honor the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units from his home state which were largely comprised of Hispanic solders. "These units were remarkable because they were mostly Hispanic, a group that at the time was often subject to discrimination in the military due simply to their ethnicity. Despite these barriers, they fought without hesitation, noting that they were as American as any other solider who wore the uniform."

Another champion of the legislation is Secretary John M. Garcia of the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, who added "New Mexico's 200th and 515th Coastal Artillery Regiments shot down 86 enemy aircraft over 4 months protecting Bataan and then endured death, starvation, disease, the Bataan Death March, and forty months of barbaric captivity. The Congressional Gold Medal will pay tribute to these men and their descendents, and record their legacy for all time."

On April 9, 1942, 12,500 American soldiers, suffering from a lack of supplies, malnutrition, malaria and starvation, fought bravely to provide US commanders with the breathing room needed prepare for the full Pacific war. With no resources left to continue, and no reinforcements able to arrive, the troops were surrendered to the Japanese forces in the Philippines.

Immediately following their capture, the troops were forced to endure a torturous 65-mile, five-day march in tropical heat without food or water. Thousands perished along the way, and those who survived were held as prisoners of war in squalid encampments for almost three years.

In captivity, the soldiers were made to do hard manual labor, were given inadequate medical treatment and nutritional rations, and were often threatened and beaten. Those who survived suffered for the rest of their lives with physical and mental reminders of what they had endured. Of the approximately 900 soldiers who returned home to New Mexico, nearly a third died within a year after leaving captivity, most often due to complications from health issues directly attributed to their time in the POW camps.

The Congressional Gold Medal was first awarded in 1776 in recognition of the "wise and spirited conduct" of George Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, in the siege and acquisition of Boston. It is the nation's highest and most distinguished civilian award.

Udall is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Task Force.

 New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League

      Old Town Station, P. O. Box 7956

                           Alburquerque, New Mexico 87194

October 9, 2007 
 Office of Congressman Tom Udall (NM-03)

Attention Legislative Assistant Pablo Duran
1410 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Dear Senator Pete Domenici

  The New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League and millions of Latino citizens are aware that the Veterans from the Bataan Death March have never been acknowledged for their bravery above and beyond the call of duty, therefore we are requesting that the survivors receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

    General Douglas McArthur refered to these soldiers as, "The Battling Bastards of Bataan." New Mexico's 200th Coast Artillery anti -aircraft unit, according to the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Foundation were the first to fire on the Japanese enemy hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The unit had the best record, downing 86 air craft, according to Director of Bataan Military Museum Jerónimo Padilla.  The men held out for four months even though they were starving and diseased and had endured constant bombing and fighting until they were ordered to surrender.  "Without this stand, the Japanese might have quickly overrun all of the U.S. bases in the Pacific.  The US soldier at Bataan forced the enemy to slow down, giving the allies valuable time to prepare for other conflicts," according to an article about WWII on the Wikipedia website.

    During what has become known as the Bataan Death March because of the inhumane treatment they received as prisoners of war their song became "No Ma, No Pa, NO UNCLE SAM." Many of the American prisoners of war died before they reached Camp O'Donnell.  Surviving Bataan soldiers returned but not to a heroes' welcome like other soldiers of World War II had.  No cheers by American crowds or bands awaited them at the San Francisco harbor. These brave men were ignored.  They came home on deliberately slower ships to hide their sad physical state since most were almost skeletons, according to the documentary film Colors of Courage by Antonio Martinez.

     It is our hope that their efforts will be acknowledged as were the efforts of the Navajo Code talkers, and like the Code talkers these men are in their senior years and do not have the time to wait. Or is the tune still "No Ma, No Pa, NO UNCLE SAM"?

     Too many times the efforts of our Spanish American ancestors have been ignored such as the Spain's contributions to the War of Independence.  Now we ask you to act with haste to acknowledge these men before none are left to show our youth that we too have heroes Ken Burns in the film The War ignored our Hispanic men who went to war. This has got to stop. 

 We hope that our congress will put the Congressional Medal of Honor on a fast track for the Bataan Survivors.  We have been informed by Senator Pete Dominici that there is a bill to stop honoring groups who served this nation bravely, and we ask why?  Do you feel these small tokens should be withheld? The medal is a way of saying our Nation acknowledges our heroes with pride.    Funds should be found to continue these projects; it is a small thank you for the sacrifices of soldier's lives and families who served with honor and pride. And we are sure you are aware that Hispanic people vote when election time rolls around. 

Quotes from Wikipedia Radio Broadcast - Voice of Freedom - Malinta Tunnel - Corregidor - 9 April 1942  "Bataan has fallen". The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith--something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy! It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives

The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds. But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more that flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come. Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand--a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world--cannot fall!

    The Camp O'Donnell Memorial Monument was built by the organization known as "The Battling Bastards of Bataan" to honor those American men who died at Camp O'Donnell, while prisoners of the Japanese.  The least our government can do is honor them with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, or is it the intent to turn your backs on them once again so they will realize "No Ma, No Pa, NO UNCLE SAM"?

 At what stage is your office on this project?  Please contact Conchita Lucero (505)299-6726 email jrlmcl@msn.com

Sincerely

 Francisco Osuna

NMHCPL President

   New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League

 Old Town Station, P. O. Box 7956

   Alburquerque, New Mexico 87194

October 9, 2007

Representative Tom Udall

811 St. Michael's Drive
Suite 104
Santa Fe, NM 87505

 Dear Representative Udall 

The members and Board of Directors of the New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League would like to ask for your help getting the Presidential or Congressional Gold Medals of Honor for the Bataan heroes. These New Mexicans fought for American freedom, especially those gallant soldiers of World War II who comprised the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiments of the New Mexico National Guard. These stalwart Americans were deployed to the Philippines and were the first to fight the invading Japanese, fighting until they were ordered to surrender. They were on the brutal Bataan Death March and the survivors endured more horrific treatment at the hands of America’s enemies. As you know, many did not survive. We are asking that you sponsor the Congressional Medal of Honor.

 We are very elated that the Navajo Code Talkers have finally been honored for their services to our country. We feel the same about the Tuskegee Airmen. We hope you will agree that it is now time to honor the Hispanic and Amerindian heroes of Bataan, Corregidor, and the other theaters of war.

 Ken Burns has overlooked the contributions of Hispanics in the Second World War. Why are they the forgotten American patriots?  Hispanic patriots during the War of Independence have been completely eliminated from US history books will you help us to correct these disrespectful trends?

 We ask that you take the initiative to honor our New Mexico veterans, especially those who suffered on Bataan.  We are asking you to join our efforts to obtain the Congressional Medal

of Honor for these heroes.  Very few are still alive, but the whole country should stand up and honor them. General Mac Arthur summed it up very well:  "The Bataan garrison was destroyed due to its dreadful handicaps, but no army in history more thoroughly accomplished its mission. Let no man henceforth speak of it as anything other than an ultimate victory."

 Please let us know what you will do to support our goal of seeing that these New Mexican heroes are honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Contact Conchita Lucero (505) 299-6726.

 Sincerely,

 Richard Quintana President

New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League

 

The New Mexican Hispanic Culture Preservation League is dedicated to correcting omissions of valor and honor to the historical records and we are pleased that U.S. Representative Tom Udall is helping us with this project. We endeavor to bring to light the Hispanic contributions to the nation. The Bataan veterans are just a small group of Hispanics who have served this nation and made sacrifices to uphold freedom and human rights.  We are proud that at long last our Hispanic heroes will also be acknowledged with the long overdue Congressional Gold Medal. The Bataan veterans walked in the shadow and example of our ancestors who fought to help the 13 colonies gain Independence but have been over looked  in American History. New Mexico lost more men per capita than any other state in the U.S. in WWII. The 200th (and later the 515th) was named the best anti-aircraft regiment in the U.S. Army in 1941 and they were the first to fire on the Japanese after the attack at Pearl Harbor. We are proud of all Americans accomplishments and hope that omissions of any cultures contributions are brought to light.

Conchita Lucero

 

La Liga para la Preservacion de la Culutra Hispana del Nuevo Mexico se dedica a corregir lo que falta del valor y del  honor del registro de los anales de la historia y nos da gusto que el Representante para el Congreso de los Ee. Uu.Tom Udall nos ayude con este proyecto.  Luchamos para relucir los contributos Hispanos a la nacion.  Los Veteranos de Bataan fueron un grupo pequeno de Hispanos que sirvieron esta nacion y hicieron sacrificios para detener la libertad y los derechos humanos.  Nos da orgullo que al fin nuestros heroes Hispanos seran recononcidos con la Medalla de Oro Congresional.  Los veteranos de Bataan andaron en la sombra y en el ejemplo de nuestros antepasados que batallaron para ayudar las 13 colonias ganar su independencia pero han sido olvidados en la historia Americana.  El Nuevo Mexico perdio mas hombres per capita que algun otro estado en Los Ee. Uu. durante la segunda guerra mundial. El 200th (y despues el 515th) fue llamado el mejor regimento antiaerea en el ejercito de los Ee. UU. en 1941 y fueron los primeros a dar fuego a los Japoneses despues del ataque de Pearl Harbor.  Nos da orgullo de todos los cumplimientos completos de Americanos y esperamos que la omision de cualqieras culturas sean iluminadas.

Dear Congressman Udal

I simply wish to add my support and thanks for your personal effort to 
finally formally recognize those veterans who endured the Bataan Death 
March.  As a child growing up in Bernalillo, NM I remember what seemed 
to me the yearly  Albuquerque Journal story recalling what many New 
Mexico veterans experienced during this time of war.  Along with all 
who experienced this death march, It is appropriate to recognize these 
proud New Mexicans who were forced to take part in the Bataan Death 
March.  I had the chance to talk with Gap Silva prior to his recent 
death about this horrific march.   Mr Silva was a Bataan Death March 
survivor and an active leader of the NM veterans group.   As he spoke 
in his old New Mexican accent, I could only imagine what they must 
have  experienced on a daily basis.

As you point out, many at that time were Hispanic troops.  What many 
forget is that these young men spoke predominantly Spanish; perhaps 
many had difficultly with English.  My mother and father were both 
born and raised in what was then a US Territory (in Anton Chico, NM 
and Puerto de Luna, NM) and both did not speak English until they went 
to High School.  Their local grade school was taught in Spanish.   
Like many New Mexicans this did not impact them, but I'm sure they 
experienced some discrimination because of their accent and their 
ethnicity.    I am sure many of the soldiers from NM did experience 
some discrimination, but we New Mexicans have always been a proud 
people who believed success was achievable for any who tried.

New Mexico is a great place...and has great people.  It is appropriate 
to recognize some of our bravest!

With kind regards,

Marcos J Madrid, Col, USAF, (Ret)

Raymond G. Jerry Murphy 13ft. monument Alburquerque VA by Sonny Rivera ©2008

Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War, the late Raymond G. "Jerry" Murphy...for the entrance to Albuquerque VA Medical Center which is being renamed in his honor. by Reynaldo "Sonny"  Rivera 

op-ed

What right do Latino groups and WWII veterans have to complain about being written out of history. Where were their voices when PBS and KNME-TV broadcast “Surviving Columbus” a one sided, anti-Hispanic and historically inaccurate account of Indian and Spanish Catholic relations in New Mexico. They did not ask why the important Spanish contributions of the people of New Mexico, La Florida, Cuba, and all of the Spanish dominions were not acknowledged by Ken Burns Revolutionary War documentary, or why New Mexico’s roll in his Civil War documentary was hardly mentioned.

Why the silence when our governor signed a bill sending the statue of a mass murderer of Catholic Indians and Spanish to Washington to represent New Mexico, even though he was responsible for the destruction and loss of so many Pueblos in the State, or why not the outcry when an Indian legislator sponsors a bill to do away with Columbus Day, while the positive contributions of Western Civilization and Christianity are not taught to our children in school.

Latino groups need to stop crying out only when its there toe being stepped on, but speak out whenever their culture and religion are being attacked, ignored, or denigrated.

Orae Dominguez, Alburquerque 

Melvyn Montano op-ed June 5, 2007

In reply to Orae Dominguez op-ed about Latinos speaking out. Let me provide a factual truth, if the Albuquerque Journal will publish this reply. I say this because I personally know of many Hispanic individuals and organizations that have objected to the broadcasts by PBS and KNME­TV about the same subjects mentioned in the Orae Dominguez op-ed but lets be candid about who has editorial license to decide what gets published, the Albuquerque Journal editors. It is naive to conclude that we Hispanics are either too unassertive or uneducated to allow such denigration of our culture or religion, but reality is reality. A great book to read that will provide an accurate understanding of why we as Hispanics do not get equal visibility is: "The Tree Of Hate" by Prof Philip Wayne Powell of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Let me site an example of exclusion of recognizing Hispanics for military bravery and performance, besides what Mr. Ken Burns left out of his PBS documentary "The War". Recently the "Tuskegee Airman" were presented The Congressional Gold Medal as were the "Navajo Code Talkers" a few years ago and these were well deserved, but why has Congress not recognized `The Battling Bastards of Bataan" who engaged the Japanese Army in the Philippine Islands before any other U. S. military forces, after surrendering against their will were forced on the notorious "Bataan Death March" where many died and those who survived were subsequently sent to Japan as POW's and treated inhumanely until they were liberated at the war's end. Does this sound like an oversight or deliberate exclusion? Another WW II tidbit, did you know that Squadron 201 of the Mexican Air Force fought with the Americans against the Japanese in the Pacific? We Hispanics have been participating in the military since the Spanish discovered the western hemisphere in 1492. There have been numerous efforts to try and inform and educate not only the public at large but also our children in order to instill a sense of self-esteem to a culture that has been inaccurately depicted for centuries.

 

    Melvyn Montano, Major General USAF (Retired)

    Former Adjutant General NM National Guard

 


 

 



 

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