Last week I helped someone who was doing research for the Names Project. The project honors “New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) units” which “served with bravery” and sacrifice “in the defense of Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor” during World War II. There was a memorial held in Albuquerque today to honor these brave champions. It was interesting that the very same day I helped that man, I had an email come in through a list serve about the historical preservation efforts taking place with the Library of Congress.
It makes me sad to think that I never had a chance to meet or speak with my maternal grandfather about his service in the Asiatic Pacific Theater during WWII. I have so many questions I wish I could ask. I wonder what he was feeling when he left the United States on a ship of nervous men headed to the Far East? My grandpa Phil entered the service less than a year after the Fall of the Philippines in 1942. I wonder if he was scared leaving his family behind knowing that close to 2,000 New Mexico soldiers had been forced by the Japanese to march over 60 miles when the Philippines went down? I think he arrived in Manilla, but I need to confirm that. His arrival to the Far East came in 1945, just a few months before the Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day). I am not sure if he was part of that, but I need to find out.
The sacrifices that our soldiers make leave me in awe. It must be mentally taxing to leave your homeland not knowing if you will return. This month I will take time to remember the soldiers who sacrificed for us during the Asiatic Pacific Theater of World War II. Thank you to my grandpa Phil~ the grandpa I never had the chance to meet. He passed away right before I was born.
Timeline of Asiatic Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II
1939~1945~ World War II
1941~1946~ Asiatic Pacific Theater
1941~ December~ Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor and two sites near Manila, Philippines
1941~1942~ Philippines Campaign (Bataan Peninsula)
1942~ January~ Battle of Bataan Begins (15,000 captured and interned)
1942~ April~ Fall of the Philippines/Bataan Death March
1942~ December~ Date of Induction~ Phil Garcia
1945~ February and March~ Smallpox/Typhoid/Tetanus Immunizations~ Phil Garcia
1945~ August~ Date of Departure~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia
1945~ September~Date of Arrival~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia
1945~ January~ Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day)
1946~ February~ Phil Garcia crossed the 180º Meridian toward the USA
1946~ February~ Date of Separation~ Phil Garcia