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Manuel Armijo

Daily Times Photo

Santa Fe's Bataan Memorial Building, which served as New Mexico's State Capitol Building from 1900 to 1966, is the site of the 200th Coast Artillery Marker and Eternal Flame.

 

During the Bataan Memorial Ceremony, the lowering of the American flag and the raising of the white flag commemorates the surrender of April 9, 1942.

Remembering Bataan . . .

 

Each year we honor the men of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment which was sent to the Philippine Islands just months before the United States entered World War II to furnish anti-aircraft support to Clark Field and Fort Stotsenberg. The Regiment was later divided to form the 515th Coast Artillery. Both of these units were lost to enemy action on Bataan when the Japanese overran the Philippines in 1942.

 

Fresh from stateside training, these units fired the first shots when Japanese bombers descended on the Philippines on December 8, 1941. Fragmented time and again in MacArthur’s struggle to stem the Japanese tide, they fought on for four painful months in widely scattered positions on Clark Field, Manila, all up and down Luzon, and covering MacArthur’s withdrawal into Bataan, warding off air attacks at the vital Calumpit Bridge.

 

The 200th consisted of just over 1,800 men when deployed. Approximately 30 men were killed in battle while 799 would perish in prisoner of war camps or on “Hell Ships”.

 

How it all began . . .

 

On April 9, 1947, Manuel Armijo carried a homemade white flag to the [then] capitol building in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He lowered the American flag, raised his flag, and then stood in silent reflection.

 

Alone among thousands of prisoners and separated from his fellow New Mexicans, Armijo began the “Death March” on April 10, 1942. It would be five days before the group Armijo was with would be allowed to fill their canteens and mess kits at Balanga. Short of San Fernando, Armijo reunited with fellow Santa Fean Eddie Martinez. When Armijo fell and could not get back up, Martinez encouraged him and helped him, the alternative would have been death — the Japanese executed men who fell along the way. The statue by Maj. Virgil McCollum of Carlsbad, another 200th CA(AA) survivor, entitled “Lest We Forget” reminded Mr. Armijo of that fall, and of Mr. Martinez who passed away in 1989.

 

Vicente Ojinaga and Evans Garcia

April 9, 2010 Bataan Memorial Ceremony

Joined by fellow survivors, the Bataan Memorial Ceremony over time, became more than a simple flag raising. [1970 Ceremony]

 

Today the ceremony is organized by the New Mexico National Guard and takes place each April 9th at the site of the 200th CAC marker on the southeast side of the Bataan Memorial Building.

 

At the age of 92, First Sergeant Manuel Anastacio Armijo officiated over the Bataan Memorial Ceremony for the last time on April 9, 2004. He died June 22, 2004.

 

“I called him ‘my sergeant,’ because he was a little older than me,” said retired LtGen Edward D. Baca, former Chief, National Guard Bureau.