Soldiers of misfortune
Among the historic photographs donated to the Palace of the Governor’s Photo Archives by New Mexico Magazine is a collection of images from 1940 depicting members of the New Mexico National Guard engaged in training exercises, ceremonial marching, and other activities. The images, shot by unknown photographers, are unremarkable in themselves but in the context of what happened to the men they depict, they take on poignancy. These are the faces of the men who became the members of the 200th Coast Artillery Unit, the unit that was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942. Many of them lost their lives during the Bataan Death March, a forced transfer of American and Filipino prisoners of war. “There’s a before Bataan and an after Bataan in the consciousness of New Mexico,” said Rob Dean, former editor of The Santa Fe New Mexican. “What’s remarkable is the contrast between these photographs and what we know was the heroic and tragic story of Bataan. They document this unit’s last summer camp together on home soil before the war. They depict these guys full of hope, maybe bravado.” Dean gives a talk, “Before Bataan: New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery,” at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 5, at the New Mexico History Museum (113 Lincoln Ave.). The lecture is held in conjunction with a small exhibit of the photographs on the museum’s second floor. Admission to the museum is free on Fridays from 5 p.m. For information call 505-476-5200.
The 200th Coast Artillery near
Las Vegas, New Mexico, August 1940; Collection/Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA)