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When World War II began, New Mexico had a population of 531,815 inhabitants, one of the least populated of the 48 states. Yet, New Mexico and New Mexicans played a key role in the outcome of the War in the Pacific. The New Mexico National Guard was the first U.S. military unit to fight the Japanese, holding on for four months on Bataan, and then suffering...
When World War II began, New Mexico had a population of 531,815 inhabitants, one of the least populated of the 48 states. Yet, New Mexico and New Mexicans played a key role in the outcome of the War in the Pacific. The New Mexico National Guard was the first U.S. military unit to fight the Japanese, holding on for four months on Bataan, and then suffering through years in POW camps. The atomic bomb was developed at a secret laboratory in Los Alamos, and tested at a site near Alamogordo. Navajo code talkers helped capture bases from which B-29s bombed Japanese cities. Finally, several thousand Japanese Americans, classified by the FBI as dangerous enemy aliens, were interned in a camp near Santa Fe. These seemingly separate events were related through unique qualities of the arid, spacious land. The authors have now provided a voice for the previously silent heroes of these wartime events: Special Engineer Detachment (SED) enlisted men and women at Los Alamos who actually fabricated the atomic bomb, Navajo Marine privates, National Guard enlisted men, and Japanese American internees. Their stories, obtained through personal interviews by Rogers and Bartlit to supplement the historical record, illuminate the patriotism, human suffering, and courageous humor in these important World War II events.
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