Cheasebro Receives New Mexico Press Women's Award

 

1st place award in History category for Bataan survivors article

 

“A lot of people think most of the prisoners died on the march. Some did, but they were in such bad condition when they got to Camp O'Donnell, that's when they really started dying.”

 

— Claude Hatch, 200th Coast Artillery

“Four Corners Business Journal”

July 14-21, 2008 Ed.

 

Claude Hatch, Robert Williams, and Valentin Archuleta, San Juan County, New Mexico survivors of the Death March on Bataan in April 1942, and Lazaro Chavez, who escaped Bataan to Corregidor, were the subjects of a July 2008 article, “Living through hell ... for us all”, written by freelance writer Margaret Cheasebro for the “Four Corners Business Journal”, a sister paper to the Farmington “Daily Times”.

 

At the New Mexico Press Women's State Convention, held April 17 & 18, 2009 in Santa Fe, Ms. Cheasebro won 1st Place in the History category for both her Bataan article and her piece on a historical Aztec, New Mexico business.

 

One of the judges, referring to the Bataan article, said, “This story was excellent! I really like how you localized the piece and got in touch with the survivors and their families from your coverage area. The way you wrote the piece was very moving. By the end I had tears in my eyes! Wonderful work!”

 

Ms. Cheasebro walks readers through the 200th Coast Artillery's arrival in the Philippines; the Government's “Get Hitler First” policy which left the men on Bataan without reinforcements and adequate supplies; the men's surrender, imprisonment, and survival; and finally, their homecoming; all the while avoiding superfluous verbiage. Indeed, Ms. Cheasebro lets the men tell their story.

 

Through the veterans and their families, readers are given a glimpse into the men's mindset during their prisoner of war days.

 

“When asked how he survived while others died, he told family members, ‘I had to stay alive to take care of the younger men.’” [Valentin Archuleta]

 

The story was especially meaningful to the family of Robert “Bob” Williams who lost their father shortly after the article was published.

 

On May 24, 2009, Lazaro Chavez passed away.

 

— B. Charley Gallegos, BCMFofNM, Inc.

 

Connie Gotsch, the state convention's contest chairman, presents award to Margaret Cheasebro (right). Photo Courtesy of Margaret Cheasebro.