To kick off the week of Memorial Day, we would like to take today to remember the Active 20-30 members from New Mexico who lost their lives during WWII. While it may seem odd to focus on the state instead of a club or an individual, their stories are tragically similar. All of these men were also members of various units of the New Mexico National Guard and were inducted into federal service as The 200th Coast Artillery Regiment on January 6th, 1941, for one year of active duty training. They were chosen for an assignment in the Philippines over a regiment from Arkansas because of the fluency in Spanish and arrived in Luzon in September of 1941.
On December 8th, 1941, a mere 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers appeared over the horizon in the Philippines. After 3 months of fierce fighting, the 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino defenders in Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942. While they managed to survive the infamous Bataan Death March on which 7,000–10,000 POWs died or were murdered, all but one were unable to survive their internment at the various POW camps. The lone survivor was killed when the ship taking him to Japan for interrogation was sunk in the Pacific. Some only lasted a few weeks while others lasted years but their names and stories are engraved on twelve granite columns at Bataan Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Those brave men were:
• Pfc. Claude Fleming, Carlsbad #202 – 6/10/1942
• 1SG George Moore, Artesia #231 – 5/20/1942
• Maj. Richard Riley, Albuquerque #103 – 11/13/1942
• Capt. Karl Schroeder, Clovis #225 – 1/19/1945
• Capt. John Beall, Clovis #225 – 2/8/1945
• Sgt. John Shields, Jr., Clovis #225 – 11/24/1942
Thank you for your service.