Episode #466, airing April 7-9, 2017, recognizes the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March, featuring the stories of four men who survived the war crimes that followed the capture of more than 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers in 1942.
The first account we’ll hear is that of California native Ero “Ben” Saccone (1912-2007), who was serving in the Philippines with the 194th Tank Battalion. You can read more about Saccone on his page at bataanproject.com, an incredible web resource put together by students at Proviso East High School in Illinois. Watch the video below for a TV feature on Saccone from 2005.
Army Air Corps veteran Wild Bill Begley (1922-2016) grew up in Kentucky, and was sent to the Philippines with the 34th Pursuit Squadron in late 1941. He shared his story on episode #5 of Hometown Heroes in 2007. Watch below for a TV feature on Begley from 2007.
Las Cruces, NM native Julio Barela was sent to the Philippines with the 200th Coast Artillery. Barela, still living in his native New Mexico at age 100, shared his memories on episode #114 in 2010.
There were more soldiers from New Mexico on the death march than from any other state. Of the 1,816 New Mexicans in the 515th and 200th Coast Artillery regiments when the death march began, only 988 made it home from the war. At the time of this airing, only twelve are still living. Nine of those twelve attended a 75th anniversary memorial at Bataan Park in Albuquerque, which you can read about in this outstanding piece by Ryan Boetel of the Albuquerque Journal.