In April, New Mexico's two U.S. Senators and three Representatives introduced yet again a bill to honor veterans of the World War II battles at Bataan and Corregidor with Congressional Gold Medals. …
In April, New Mexico's two U.S. Senators and three Representatives introduced yet again a bill to honor veterans of the World War II battles at Bataan and Corregidor with Congressional Gold Medals. Thousands of United States and Filipino servicemen and nurses held out against the Japanese in Bataan and Corregidor through five months of battles and sieges. Their commanding officer ultimately surrendered the forces to the Japanese on April 9, 1942 as starvation and disease threatened to kill those left. They were forced to walk 65 miles without water, food or medical care to an internment camp, a torturous journey that became known as the Bataan Death March. Among them were 1,800 New Mexico National Guardsmen. Only half survived the march and three years as prisoners of war.
At least 10 times, Congress has considered a bill to honor those who fought at Bataan and Corregidor with the Gold Medal. Those bills have been introduced at various times by both Republicans and Democrats. Each time the bill has died.
"Recognizing the courage and sacrifice of Bataan and Corregidor defenders is long overdue," wrote Sen. Tom Udall and B.J. Lawrence, a Veterans of Foreign Wars commander in chief, in an op-ed for The Hill. "Even after 77 years, we still have an opportunity to make this right for the few survivors who remain, and to honor the memory of those who have since passed."
The Congressional Gold Medal is a symbol of the highest appreciation.
The few survivors of Bataan and the families of all those who served there and died, deserve this recognition from Congress. But it seems the bill has little chance of passing before Udall, one of its champions, leaves the Senate.
It is a travesty that more than decades later, with few Bataan survivors remaining, Congress has been so reluctant to honor them.
Retired National Guardsman Francis Cordova - Citizen of the Year for Taos in 2018 - is optimistic that the bill will finally pass. He wants to be prepared to ensure the name of every Taos County serviceman who was there will be recognized. Men like Antonio B. Martinez of Arroyo Hondo, Ernesto N. Garcia of El Prado and Jose L. Coca of Taos.
A list of those who served in Bataan and Corregidor is on Page B9 in this week's edition. The list will also be online at taosnews.com.
Read the list, share the list and help Cordova track down the families of those who served. In order to be among those recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal, survivors and families need to fill out paperwork. Cordova has those applications on hand as does the Taos County's administration office at 105 Albright Street.
For more information, call Cordova at 575) 770-1141.
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