It is with great sadness and sorrow the family of Bataan Death March Survivor Julio T. Barela, 101, announce his passing on February 12, 2018.
Mr. Barela was born in Dona Ana County on the Family Farm just north of Las Cruces near the farming community of San Ysidro to Guillermo and Refugia Talamantes Barela on September 28, 1916.
Julio is survived by his daughter and caretaker for many years Anita Dawson and husband Larry, daughter Juanita Padilla and husband Michael, granddaughters Amanda Dawson (Jesse Ochoa), Mary Madrid and Melanie Sloan (Victor), and five great grandchildren Marisa and Samantha Alvillar, Caitlyn Salopek, Wright and Dorothy Sloan. He will be greatly missed by all who loved him. Preceding him in death his loving wife Maria Gomez Barela married for 55 years at the time of her passing. Also preceding him in death were four brothers Guillermo Jr., David, Willie and Valentin and five sisters Amita, Minnie Lipron Eloisa, Carrie Darby, and Corine.
Mr. Barela was a farmer for most of his life preceding WWII and after. After the war he leased over 500 acres of land on which he raised cotton, chili, hay and vegetables.
Prior to the war he farmed on his mother and father’s farm in San Ysidro until he was one of the first men in Dona Ana County to be drafted into the Army prior to WWII in April 1941. He was one of the 21 men from Dona Ana County. Mr. Barela was stationed at Ft. Bliss, El Paso, Texas and integrated into the 200th Coast Artillery, Battery A as a Search Light Crewmen and shipped aboard the President Pearce to the Philippine Islands.
On April 8, 1942 the Japanese took 70,000 Filipino and American men prisoners. Mr. Barela was with thousands of soldiers who were forced to walk the Bataan Death March. Sources say 10,000 to 15,000 men died on the March. For the men who survived the Death March it was the beginning of a hellish ordeal of captivity in Prisoner of War Camps which included Cabanatuan. Later Mr. Barela was among several men sent to Niigata, Japan aboard one of the hell ships. He was a prisoner of war for three and a half years.
Corporal Barela was the fourth Dona Ana County Youth freed from the POW Camps flown by U.S. Air and arrived at Hamilton Field, San Rafael, California around September 25, 1945. Being one of a group of liberated prisoners (RAMPS) Recovered American Military Personnel who arrived and participated in a special welcoming ceremony according to a telegram sent by Maj. Gen. Edward F. Witsell, Acting Adjutant of the Army from Washington, D.C.
Mr. Barela was awarded three Presidential Unit Citation Awards with Oak Leaf Clusters, The Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, The American Campaign, American Defense with one Bronze Service Star, and Asiatic Pacific Campaign Ribbons, Philippine Defense Service Star, The Victory Medal, Seven Overseas Service Bars, Distinguished Unit Badge with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Prisoner of War Ribbon.
The Branigan Cultural Center exhibited WWII Memorabilia from New Mexico service members on September 1, 1995 which included Mr. Barela’s uniform and medals which was featured in the Las Cruces Sun-News. One of the television stations in El Paso, TX interviewed him the previous year upon the anniversary of the Bataan Death March. The El Paso Times interviewed him for a special edition of the Borderlands “For Love of Country” in 2007. Hometown Hero’s, a national radio program in San Diego, CA interviewed him in 2008. The City of Las Cruces gave Mr. Barela and two other survivors special recognition during a City Commission meeting on March 3, 2008. They were presented with specially minted medallion inscribed with “Thank You for Serving Our Country: from the City of Las Cruces”, The Missile Ranger at WSMR ran a story and picture on March 27, 2008. Mr. Barela attended many of the Bataan Memorial Death March Events at White Sands Missile Range until health issues no longer allowed it. His goal was that people Remember Bataan and the men who fought and died.
A special thanks to the New Mexico State Veterans Home and all the staff there for all the love and care they have provided for Dad. A special thank you to the staff and volunteers on F Unit for the special attention and care they gave Julio.
A note of thanks to the Bataan descendants and the Remember Bataan Foundation for their continued support in keeping the Bataan Survivors History from being forgotten. Special thanks to the Patriot Guard and The Bataan Memorial Bike Run. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the NM Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences, NM and the Remember Bataan Foundation. c/o Dana Knight, 615 Shiloh, Mesilla Park, NM 88047.
The Rosary for Julio Barela will be held on Monday, February 19, 2018 at 7:00pm following the visitation from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Getz Funeral Home located at 1410 E. Bowman Ave. Las Cruces, NM 88001. A funeral Mass will be held the following day on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 10:00am at Our Lady of Purification located at 5525 Cristo Rey St, Doña Ana, NM 88032. Burial will take place at Masonic Cemetery following the funeral mass. Military Honors will be held at the graveside.