Thursday, January 26, 2012

The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum

 When war broke out in Asia and Europe in 1939, New Mexico’s contribution to the upcoming war effort was unclear.  However, by early 1941, all New Mexico National Guard units had been ordered to active Federal duty. 

Bataan Death March Phoo
The 200th Coast Artillery served in the Philippines and was the first to fire on the Japanese as they attacked Clark Field on the 8th of December, 1941.  The 515th Coast Artillery Regiment was created later that same day and would be sent to Manila to defend it.  Some of these soldiers would suffer the infamous Bataan Death march.  Many suffered unbelievable atrocities in the Japanese hellships and in Japanese run prison camps until the end of the war.  A small group of these soldiers would fight as guerillas with the Filipinos. 

Burial Detail at O'Donnell
Two other well known New Mexico National Guard units did not serve in the Philippines.  These units served in the European Theater of Operations.  The 104th Antitank Battalion, later re-designated the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, served with the 34th Division and was unofficially the first unit to enter Rome.    The 120th Combat Engineer Battalion served with the 45th Division and was part of the landing forces during the assault into Sicily. 

Surrender of American Troops on Corregido
The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum features artifacts, images, press clippings, weapons and uniforms carried or worn by Guardsmen dating back to the 19th century.  The Museum honors the history of the New Mexico National Guard and places specific importance on the infamous Bataan Death March.   It is located near Museum Hill in Santa Fe and is maintained by the New Mexico National Guard.
The New Mexico National Guard Bataan Memorial Museum offers visitors a look into the proud military history of the New Mexico National Guard.   Come by and visit, admission is free. 

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