Bataan Death March

Ramon Sr. Villa

By Frank Trejo

Having grown up in rural South Texas during the Great Depression and having lost his mother when he was only 10, Ramón Villa Sr. knew hardship.

But he was unprepared for the struggles he faced in World War II as part of the U.S. Army’s 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, being captured by the Japanese and forced on the Bataan Death March. Villa endured more than three years as a prisoner of war.

Villa was born on Jan. 9, 1920 in Donna, Texas. His family moved a short time later to Yorktown, Texas.

Trinidad G. Martinez

By David Muto

Trinidad Martinez remembers the little things.

Like the long list of vegetables he helped his family grow on their ranch in South Texas before World War II broke out.

Thoughts like that punctuate Martinez's recollections of his time at war, during which he endured years of incredible hardship at the hands of enemy combatants and even walked in the infamous Bataan Death March. He seems amused while recalling these smaller, seemingly trivial memories of his youth, as if they've been uncovered for the first time in years.

Agapito Encinias Silva

By Helen Peralta

As a World War II prisoner of war, Agapito E. Silva said death often marched beside him while battling in the Phillippines. Having learned the art of survival is what allows him to vividly recount memories of a war that continues to haunt him.

"I never gave up hope," recalled 83-year-old Silva of San Marcel, N.M. "Guys that gave up hope never made it."

Joe Ramirez Jasso

By Tony Cantú

Among his siblings, four of whom would join him in the war effort, Jose Ramirez "Joe" Jasso is remembered as el cabezudo, the hard-headed one of the bunch, always getting into trouble as a youth.

Jasso had grown up quickly by the time he joined the war effort. Serving as a surgical technician, he helped treat victims of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and the Corregidor battle. Amid the wounded and dying, the playfulness and mischief of childhood quickly became a thing of the past.

Arthur Smith

By Ashley Clary

The laugh-worn eyes of Arthur B. Smith hide a courageous yet triumphant story. Not only did he face the dangers of the 1942 Bataan Death March and three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, he went on to lead a productive and fulfilling life.

Smith was born June 14, 1919, to José Padilla Smith and Isabel Britton Smith in Santa Fe, N.M. Neither of his parents received more than a third-grade education. One of eight brothers and sisters who grew up in Santa Fe, Smith graduated from high school and joined the military in 1940.

Lorenzo Banegas

Lorenzo Banegas was one of more than 1,700 New Mexico National Guard soldiers taken prisoner on Bataan.

No state paid a higher price - more than 900 New Mexico captives died. Banegas survived, but even today - 72 years old and retired in Las Cruces - he agonizes over the terrible memories.

He survived the brutal Bataan Death March, where thousands of soldiers died of disease, torture and starvation. By 1943, he was a prisoner at Cabanatuan in the Philippines, suffering from diphtheria and beriberi.

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