Bataan bricks honor fallen
By Airman Elliott Sprehe, 27th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 08, 2007
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Shortly before Memorial Day and D-Day anniversaries were celebrated, Bill Richter, 27th Civil Engineer Squadron, quietly placed engraved bricks in a small memorial near the base chapel.
Moments later Janie Lopez laid a brick with her son, Jose Lopez Jr., dedicated to her husband, Jose Lopez, who died last year. Mr. Lopez worked at the 27th CES.
"It was a way to memorialize him and honor him," said Mr. Lopez Jr.
These bricks, with carefully inscribed words of gratitude, commemorate loved ones as well as the men who died or endured the Bataan Death March of World War II. In addition to D-Day, June 6 marked the one-year anniversary of the dedication of the Bataan Memorial on Cannon Air Force Base.
The 27th Bombardment Group, from which the 27th Fighter Wing traces its lineage, was one of three units whose men were executed merely for asking for water.
The other two units were the 200th Coastal Artillery Battalion and the 515th Anti-Aircraft Battalion.
"A lot of the folks from New Mexico were on (the march)," said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Howard, 27th Security Forces Squadron.
The foundation of the monument is a map of the peninsula of the Philippines where the march occurred. Three small pillars in the background pay homage to the three units involved in the march.
The monument was funded exclusively by donations, said Chief Howard. Organizations such as local Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fraternal Order of Eagles, high schools as well as the state government of New Mexico donated funds to create the memorial.
The labor to build the monument came from the hands of volunteers, said Chief Howard. Airmen from the 27th CES and other units at Cannon built the monument on their own time.
"There are absolutely no (public) expenses to this. Everything is volunteer. All the money either buys the brick or goes to the Airmen," said Chief Howard.
Any profits gained are going to be put into a fund for the needs of Airmen, said Chief Howard.
"It's about taking care of the family. We are all Airmen," said Chief Howard.
Memorial bricks are available for purchase as well, as a permanent honor to a lost loved one or as thanks to servicemembers.
There are currently only 111 available bricks left to be replaced by memorial bricks. Then the plan is to put future bricks at the Air Park near the main gate, said Chief Howard.
"It gives you the opportunity to immortalize a lost soul, a loved one. It allows you to honor those that have done great things," said Chief Howard.
For those interested in purchasing a brick, contact Chief Howard at 505-784-4640 or DSN 681-4640. The bricks are $50 for a single brick or $100 for a double brick.