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Historical

The Bataan Death March: 'I Thought I Was Going To Die'

World War II veteran Julio Barela of the 200th Coast Artillery recounts the horrors he experienced during his time in Japanese captivity.

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"We forgot all about our folks and about ... living life."

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TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

When it comes to the infamous Bataan death march in April of 1942 there were more soldiers from New Mexico on the march than from any other state. One of them was a man named Julio Barela and even before the march started things had gotten pretty bleak for Julio he and his fellow members of the 200th coast artillery in the Philippines were under supplied, ill equipped, and had no hope for reinforcements. - We don't surrender until we ran out of everything, we was, we were starving eating weeds and stuff like that in order to survive and that's when the death march started. - Now when you started that march you had no idea how long it was going to go and you're already starving right? - We started that death march we were pretty weak then because we, when we were fighting we didn't have nothing, not enough to eat. First we were getting only two meals a day and then they cut us to one meal a day, and then after that we didn't have anything to eat. - What kept you going, how did you continue on? Because I'm sure a lot of guys were falling on the side and probably getting shot or bayoneted and you were seeing guys fall left and right, what kept you going? How do you think you survived? - Well we used to hunt, we used to eat weeds and stuff like that, and then a lot of them died with malaria and a lot of them with  diarrhea according to what they eat see. Part of them died on the death march and then the other part died in concentration camp. - Did you ever think you were going to die? - Well, I thought I was going to die but I didn't, I just got to where I didn't care. It was just like this see, I used to worry a lot about my folks about my mother every day and one day I said to myself I'm nothing but a doggone stupid, I'm not going to worry about them because they're better off than I am. They're not having as much trouble as I am having, and the other boys they were all, they feel the same way. We got to where we forgot all about our folks and about the living life. Maybe we were just lucky because when we surrendered a lot of them died of starvation. A lot of them they didn't have anything to eat, they were weak. Malaria, dysentery and all that, a lot of them, we just got to the point where we didn't care. We used to help the ones that couldn't walk, but the Japanese, the one's that couldn't walk, they'd shoot them. When a man would lay down and he can't get up, they'd shoot him. So if they were to punish you, you were in a concentration camp, they punished me and they knocked me down, and I was fine but if I had tried to stand up and get up, I would be killed. That's a lesson, the hard way.