Las Cruces Resident And Bataan Death March Survivor Dies At 101
A lifelong Las Crucean and war hero passed away yesterday at the age of 101.
Born to Guillermo and Refugia (Talamantez) Barela, Mr. Barela was a lifelong resident of the Las Cruces, New Mexico area, although his last years had been spent at the New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences.Raised in San Ysidro, a small community north of Las Cruces, Barela left home at 16 to join the Navy because he wanted to see the world. His mother found out and followed him to California where she told officials her son was under age, and brought him home. The Army drafted Barela on May 14, 1941. He would be assigned to the 200th Coast Artillery's A Battery.On the Bataan Death March, Barela thought about his mother and how she would suffer if he died. He almost fell several times from exhaustion and pain caused by his bleeding feet. “Then I would remember her and the prayers she would say for me, and this gave me the courage to continue on.”Shipped north to Japan, Barela was interned at the prisoner of war camp in Niigata. When liberated, he weighed only 80 pounds. - BCMFOFNM.org
To hear Mr. Barela himself tell his story, click here.