Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Congressmen suggest naming the VA clinic for the Bataan death march

LAS CRUCES – Two members of the New Mexico federal delegation support bill to rename a veteran’s clinic in Las Cruces to commemorate victims of the atrocities of World War II.

US MP Yvette Herrell, the Republican Congresswoman who represents southern New Mexico, introduced one of the US MPs Teresa Leger Fernandez, DN.M. endorsed bill that would rename the VA Clinic in Las Cruces the Las Cruces Bataan Memorial Clinic, according to a press release from Herrell’s office.

The clinic is located at 3401 Del Rey Blvd.

The new name honors the victims of the Bataan death march in World War II. After their surrender to the Japanese armed forces in April 1942 in defense of the Philippines, 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers became prisoners of war and were deprived of food, water and medical care by their captors. The Japanese forced them to march 65 miles to detention camps in the Philippines, and an estimated 10,000 soldiers died on the route.

“The brutal legacy of the Bataan death march is only matched by the unbowed spirit of the soldiers of New Mexico,” Herrell said. “Today we have the opportunity to honor your sacrifice and to keep your memory forever.”

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, RN.M., speaks to reporters outside Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

Herrell said 1,816 New Mexicans are among the 75,000 Allied forces stationed on the Bataan Peninsula, “by far the most per capita states.” It is estimated that 829 New Mexicans died either while fighting, in a POW camp, or after their liberation.

“Bataan soldiers remind us of the courage and patriotism that all veterans share,” said Leger Fernandez. “The renaming of Las Cruces VA Clinic to Bataan Memorial Clinic honors their fearless heroism in the face of unthinkable conditions.”

Teresa Leger Fernandez speaks during a fundraiser in Farmington on Friday, July 19, 2019.

The Bataan Memorial Death March, an event that attracts thousands of protesters from around the world, is held every year in the White Sands Missile Range east of Las Cruces. Participants either hike 26.2 miles or complete a 14.2 mile honor march. Some carry weighted backpacks with equipment, memorabilia, or groceries to donate to pantries after the event.

Michael McDevitt is the city and county government reporter for Sun News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected] or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.

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