World War II lasted nearly four years for the United States and during that time, 49,579 New Mexican men volunteered or were drafted into military service. New Mexico had both the highest volunteer rate and the highest casualty rate out of all the forty-eight states which were then in the Union.
Soldiers from New Mexico were some of the first Americans to see combat during the war. Hundreds of soldiers from the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard, were in the Philippines manning the anti-aircraft guns at Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg when it was bombed by the Japanese aircraft just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The New Mexicans found their job frustrating because their shells could not hit high-flying Japanese bombers, although they did manage to shoot down a few fighters, which were flying at a low altitude. After the Japanese launched their main offensive to conquer the Philippines, the 200th Coast Artillery and New Mexico’s 515th Coast Artillery covered the withdrawal of Filipino and American forces during the Battle of Bataan, which ended on April 9, 1942.
The New Mexicans then took part in the Bataan Death March, in which thousands of Allied prisoners of war were killed during a forced march from the battlefield to camps at Balanga, where they remained until the end of the war. Of the 1,800 New Mexican troops serving in the Philippines, only 800 returned to their home to New Mexico.
The History of Memorial Day:
Before it became a federal holiday in 1971 and its observance moved to the last Monday in May, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and took place on May 30th.
The roots for Decoration Day go back to shortly after the Civil War when citizens paid local tributes to those who had died. In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an official proclamation for a nationwide Decoration Day observance. After World War I, the observance was expanded to honor all those who had died in service during any American war.
Since its transfer to make it part of a three-day weekend, however, Memorial Day has also become synonymous with the unofficial start of summer. Over the last 45 years, trips to the beach to kick-off the vacation season or local mall to take advantage of holiday sales have vied for attention with more traditional observances.
In keeping with day’s more solemn purpose, here are a few things you could do this Memorial Day to honor our nation’s fallen heroes.
We remember those soldiers killed in the many American military conflicts…
During the Korean War according to the Department of defense over 200 soldiers were killed while in active duty…
A complete listing of those 200 New Mexican heroes’ can be found at https://www.archives.gov/files/research/military/korean-war/casualty-lists/nm-alpha.pdf
During the Vietnam War over 395 New Mexican soldiers died in service per the national archives the complete recognized list includes…
Even as the perceived major wars have ended our military has continued to serve in war zones and those heroes get less attention via the press than those from the great wars however each deserves equal respect…
In Operation Enduring Freedom, the name for the war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001 and officially ended December 2015, 2,351 Americans were killed. More have continued to be killed since the official end to the war as we draw down. A complete list of all 2351 solders that died through 2015 can be found at
Operation Iraqi Freedom, the initial name for the war in Iraq, lasted from 2003 to 2010, during which 4,412 Americans were killed. A list of the solders that died through 2015 can be found at https://cms.qz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/oifnames-of-fallen.pdf
Operation New Dawn, as the campaign was renamed after the US reduced its troop presence, has claimed 66 deaths on the American side. A list of the solders that died through 2015 can be found at
As the draw down from Afghanistan and Iraq continues the number of fallen soldiers reported continues to grow and more concise records of those fallen are committed to be released via the National Archives by the end of 2021. We honor all that have fallen and apologize for the missing names of those more recent deaths in the service to our country.
This statistic shows the fatalities of the United States’ military in Iraq and Afghanistan as of February 02, 2021, has grown. As of February 02, 2021, the United States had lost total 7,036 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 128 coming from New Mexico.
A May 24th release by the Department of Defense tell the story of death by the numbers in presently active war zones…
What can you do to honor the sacrifice of those who died serving our country?
Attend the Memorial Service in Tularosa on Memorial Day or if not in Southern New Mexico attend a service in your community. The Tularosa Memorial Day Service details
The public is invited to the Tularosa Veterans Memorial Day Observance to be held in Tularosa Veterans Park, 1050 Bookout Road, along Highway 70, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021, at NOON. We honor the fallen, those who served and those who are serving today. This observance is dedicated to the memory of Major Wm Guthrie.
Wear or display a red poppy.
Around Memorial Day, you usually can find Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members selling paper red poppies in front of shopping centers. Now a widely recognized memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict, the red poppy tradition grew from the World War I poem, “In Flanders Field,” by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. The poem refers to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers in the lines:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row.”
Pause at 3 p.m.
In accordance with the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, which was passed in 2000, pause from whatever you are doing at this time to reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom to all. https://www.usmemorialday.org/national-moment-of-remembrance
Read the original Decoration Day proclamation.
Less than 500 words in length, Logan’s proclamation, officially titled General Orders No. 11, is a sobering call-to-duty for all U.S. citizens. https://www.usmemorialday.org/general-order-11
Display the U.S. flag.
Do you have an American flag for your home? Since Memorial Day is a day of national mourning, fly the flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon to commemorate those who have died. The flag is raised back to full staff at 12 p.m. to honor living veterans.
Volunteer and Commit Your Time to Veterans
Agencies and organizations that work with veterans or active military and their families need volunteers the local hospital, USO center or homeless shelter, senior center and commit to volunteer your time on a regular basis.
What do you plan to do this Memorial Day to honor our nation’s fallen heroes?
Take a moment reflect and honor those fallen today as you move forward this holiday with family, shopping or continuing your day-to-day routine. At the Alamogordo Town News and 2nd Life Media and Boutique this weekend we pause a moment, remember and celebrate the sacrifice.
Article Sources: Wikipedia, The Department of Defense, The National Archives, Memorial Day.org, USA Today, CMS.QZ.com, New Mexico History Archives
Author Chris Edwards, 2nd Life Media & Alamogordo Town News. Published books and bio found at