New Mexico PBS Presents Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration

On December 15, 2011, honoring the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan and the subsequent death march, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) proposed S .2004, legislation to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II. The next day, Congressman Martin Heinrich (D-NM) proposed its counterpart in the House of Representatives – H.R. 3712.

One inspiration for this action was the documentary Tragedy of Bataan. As an adjunct to Tragedy of Bataan, New Mexico PBS is creating a half-hour program with some of the survivors of the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor. New Mexico PBS has scheduled the entire hour for broadcast Thursday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m., during the 70th anniversary week of the fall of Bataan. The National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) will distribute the program nationally to member PBS stations in May with a suggested broadcast on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012.

Just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) was the “first to fire” on the enemy. That night, in order to provide anti-aircraft protection for Manila, the Regiment was split, forming the 515th Coast Artillery, the first battle-born unit of World War II. New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units were in place on Bataan at the time of the surrender. Some of the members of these and other units survived the infamous Bataan Death March and are alive today. New Mexico PBS will capture the stories of some of these last remaining survivors.

New Mexico PBS is producing a 30-minute studio based program to relate some of the stories unique to our heroes of Bataan and to understand the import of the award of the Congressional Gold Medal. Senator Udall opens the hour introducing the documentary and panel discussion, talking about the significance of the 70th anniversary and the bill he is sponsoring that will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the defenders of Bataan. Following the opening with Senator Udall, the full half-hour documentary Tragedy of Bataan will air. At the conclusion of the documentary, the 30-minute studio discussion will air. The discussion includes interviews with Pedro “Pete” Gonzalez and William Overmier, two of the last remaining Bataan defenders and Lieutenant General (ret.) Edward Baca, former Chief of the National Guard Bureau and spokesman for Bataan’s defenders. 

Watch a sample of Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration here:

For  more details about Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration, visit the New Mexico PBS website.