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
The 200th consisted of just over 1,800 men when deployed.
Approximately 30 men were killed in battle while 798 would
perish in prisoner of war camps or on “Hell Ships”.
How it all began . . .
On April 9, 1953, 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
April 9, 2010 Bataan
Joined by fellow survivors, the Bataan Memorial Ceremony over time, became more
than a simple flag raising.
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
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.