Bill Richardson Should Have Told Obama About the Bataan Death March

Obama’s ill-advised comment yesterday (3/27) comparing the primary race to the Bataan Death March (link) will NOT go over well in New Mexico. I wonder what Bill Richardson is thinking? After endorsing Obama in the middle of the Rev. Wright controversy, Richardson has to watch Obama making a comment that cheapens one of the grimmest events of World War II.

Las Cruces, New Mexico, of course, is the site of the annual Bataan Memorial Death March, which was first held in 1989. This year the event will be held on March 30…that’s right, this Sunday! Last year over 4,000 participants took part in the march. The history of the Bataan March and this memorial event are detailed at the Bataan Memorial Death March site.

The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a special group of World War II heroes. These brave soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines.

The conditions they encountered and the aftermath of the battle were unique. They fought in a malaria-infested region, surviving on half or quarter rations with little or no medical help. They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.

On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.

They were marched for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.

More details about the New Mexico “Regiment” are offered here at the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Foundation site.

According to the site’s History section, of the 1800 men in the Regiment, fewer than 900 returned home…and within a year after returning a third died of complications from their ordeal

The Las Cruces memorial is pictured here. According to the site, “is the only federally funded monument dedicated to the victims of the Bataan Death March during WWII.”

With White Sands and Ft. Bliss located in the immediate area, the area naturally has many active and retire military personnel. Apart from the memorial, the access roads adjacent to Highway 70 are named “Bataan Memorial East/West.” People around here will never forget the Bataan Death March.

So you see, Obama’s clever comment will not play very well in CD-2 if he is the nominee, and, indeed, all over New Mexico, since New Mexico lost many of its sons to the horrors of this ordeal 65 years ago.

This sort of faux pas is inexcusable. I’m sure it will be a subject of conversation this Sunday as the March takes place…


One Response

  1. […] Big Tent Democrat placed an interesting blog post on Bill Richardson Should Have Told Obama About the Bataan Death March […]

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