On December 15, 2011, honoring the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan (April 2012) 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 has produced a half-hour program with some of the survivors of the surrender of Bataan.
BATAAN: A 70TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION was produced by New Mexico PBS in cooperation with Jan Thompson.
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 captured the stories of some of these last remaining survivors.
Senator Tom Udall opens the hour, by introducing the documentary and panel discussion. He also talks 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. The full half-hour documentary, TRAGEDY OF BATAAN follows.
At its conclusion, a 30-minute studio-based program relates some of the stories unique to the heroes of Bataan and to understanding the import of the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, including interviews with Pedro “Pete” Gonzalez and William Overmier, two of the last remaining Bataan defenders, and Edward D. Baca, Lieutenant General, USA (Retired), former Chief of the National Guard Bureau and spokesman for Bataan’s defenders.