Elaine Prickett shares the dramatic, untold story of her uncle, Susano Madril, who survived the Bataan Death March.
Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation...
...New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department
of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment
for the Arts. Art works. ...and Viewers Like You
>>THIS TIME, ON COLORES!
ELAINE PRICKETT SHARES THE DRAMATIC, UNTOLD STORY OF
HER UNCLE SUSANO MADRIL WHO SURVIVED THE BATAAN
>>MUSICAL TRIO, THE WHISKEYBELLES BLEND
COUNTRY, BLUEGRASS, AMERICANA, AND FOLK TO
CREATE THEIR OWN MEMORABLE SOUND.
IT'S ALL AHEAD ON COLORES!
>>REMEMBERING OUR HISTORY.
>>Devin Hawkes Ludlow: Your uncle Susano Madril,
he was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.
>> Elaine Prickett: I think we always knew he'd
been through something terrible, and then as we
were growing up, we heard about Bataan.
I don't think I really understood it for a long
time until I was older just the depths of the
horrors they went through and the everyday torture
and just, you know, the starvation and all of the
aspects of the Bataan that some of us don't realize
how intense it was.
And it was 24/7 and it was three and a half years.
He was in captivity three and a half years.
The thing that surprised me that a lot of people
don't know is they were fighting for three months
before they were captured and they had been pushed
back to the Bataan Peninsula and they didn't
have, they were on half rations by then.
They were already malnourished.
They were exhausted.
So they were already in bad shape by time they
were captured, and then put through this 65 mile march.
And I just I can't imagine my uncle being part of
that and then I think about him when he was
around us and he's laughing and just to go
through something like that and to be able to
adjust you know to just regular life and be part
of a community later.
I can't imagine how you do that.
>>Prickett: I've learned a few stories that my dad
had heard and some other cousins distant, he
remembered when they were actually marching that
they pulled out three men from the group they found
out they were officers and he said they took them by
a hill and then, just behind the hill, and they
just shot them.
He said that if you couldn't walk or you
couldn't, somebody couldn't help carry you,
if you were sick that they would just bayonet you or
trucks would run over you.
The Japanese were very brutal with them, of the
sick and people, they just couldn't keep up and so
pretty much you had to be able to keep up.
If you got out of line or tried to go for water the
Japanese would kill you and they would have them
sit and just look at water and not let them have any.
And he has these postcards that he wrote to Savino
Madril, that is his brother, and he says you
know take care of Lupita and the kids and it's like
a little fill in the blank and their typed so I'm
assuming the Japanese or somebody typed them or
they had other prisoners type them for them on the cards.
It'll say camp numbered D2 or whatever it is and one
of the camps was a hospital area type camp
and it says that he's in excellent...
health is underlined, and so you really have to
wonder, you know.
Like these are being sent back I think so that here
in the States we thought they were fine, that they
were being treated well, some of the word about the
Bataan March didn't get back to the general public
for quite a while.
>>Prickett: ...and then later when they finally
started releasing more about it.
That's when people found out what was going on with
Ludlow: Why were there so many New Mexicans on the
Bataan Death March?
>>Prickett: They were part of the 200 coastal
artillery that were then part of the National Guard
and they sent that whole group out to the Philippines.
Why they picked that particular group, I'm not
It might have something to do with, I think, there
was a lot of Spanish maybe spoken in the Philippines
because they had those roots, you know.
I think a third of the people that came from New
Mexico died in the March and they were a big number
of the people that were in March.
>>Prickett: They were from all over the state, you
know, so they might be your neighbor, they might
have been, you know, somebody working in a
store and they've been through this and they had
to adjust and come back and adjust to what
civilian life was without any help.
>>Ludlow: Yeah, after such an intense experience
>>Prickett: Mm-hmm, when I first got the eyewitness
accounts, I started to read them and I couldn't
read them and I had I waited probably a month or
so and then finally I just took them out when I was
by myself and read them, about him being pulled out
and beaten, because it was just too emotional to tie
that to somebody that you know, that you're related to.
For no apparent reason soldiers, guards took some
bamboo sticks and just started beating him and
then they got back from the work detail and they
were lying in formation, I guess, and they just
singled him out for no reason and pulled him out
and started beating him with pickaxe handles
severely until he just fell to the ground and
passed out and then finally they allowed some
other prisoners to carry him to the barracks where
he laid without medicine or medical attention for
several days until he finally got better.
>>Ludlow: And he went to a lot of different camps
after that, right?
>>Prickett: Yes, after the march he, of course, most
of them went through camp O'Donnell and then he was
at Cabanatuan, which he was there probably the
majority of the time and so that was where a lot of
this I think happened and I know at one point I
don't think it was this camp, I think was later in
Japan, he did tell a cousin that he had worked
on making bricks and if you couldn't work they
would beat you on the back with a shovel.
You had to be able to work or if he set to rest for a
minute sometimes they'd come and beat you so they
were forced to work.
After he was in Cabanatuan that's when the forces,
the US forces, were coming back in to the Philippines
and starting to take it back over and at that time
because a lot of the soldiers would hear the
planes and see them so they thought they were
close to being rescued and so this was a distraught
time for them because they were taking back the
Philippines and the Japanese decided to move
them out and so that's when he got put on one of
the what they call the hell ships.
>>Ludlow: Hell Ships?
>>Prickett: You read any descriptions of the hell
ships you would understand why, they basically, the
ship he was one of the bigger ones and there were
four that were being taken to China and of the, this
is the only one that made it, they would put them in
the cargo hold and this one had been, had coal in
it that they had unloaded and they just had all the
coal dust and everything in there and then they
would beat them back so that more of them would
fit and so they put them in this particular ship
until they were just crammed in there and he
did talk to some of my relatives and my dad who I
mentioned the camps that you couldn't even sit down
like you were just shoulder-to-shoulder.
If you got sick or you needed to sit or pass out
that you just went down and then it was hard to
breathe in these cargo holds and it was really
hot, it was the hottest time of the year so they'd
get up to like 110.
So, a lot of them were packed and they had
diseases like dysentery, beri beri, typhoid, you
know, all kinds of diseases.
This eyewitness account of his also mentioned that he
had all of those diseases as well really and they
didn't have any medicine.
It's like it's a miracle he made it back and that
ship was hit twice by submarine, U.S.
submarines because the Japanese did not mark
their ships, they did not sign to Geneva convention.
>>Ludlow: So, these are unmarked ships getting torpedoed
>>Prickett: Right, so they're supposed
to supposedly mark them that there's POWs on them
and they wouldn't so the US didn't know that their
own men were on these ships and so the three
other ships that were in this convoy were torpedoed
and bombed and they did not make it to Japan and
his was the only one that made it.
That particular ship had one of the longest
voyages. It was 29 days
>>Ludlow: A month, it was a month?
>>Prickett: Yeah, it was a full month and they set in
the harbor for two days before they even left.
>>Ludlow: Your uncle went through so much.
Can you tell us a little bit about how his ordeal ended?
How we he left the camps?
>>Prickett: So, when he was in Japan because he
had to get on a second hell ship, which I just
can't imagine when you lived through one, just
how it even felt walking up to another one to be
crammed into a cargo hold again but he was on a
second one and taken to Japan and there he said, I
remember him telling us, that all of, some of the
guards all just disappeared and they had
been seeing planes, U.S.
planes and hearing planes so they knew that the US
was getting closer, but they didn't know what to
do when the guards disappeared because they
were just so weak and so sick that they couldn't walk out.
They didn't really know where to go so they stayed
in the camps because they didn't know if it was safe to go.
And they started dropping, the U.S.
started dropping care packages, parachuting in
little supplies and clothing and different
things for them and sometimes they would land
in the camp and they would get them and he said
sometimes they would land outside and you know they
didn't go out and get those because they weren't
sure it was safe to get them, that in the camp he
was in they were hoping that most of them would
land in there because that's the only way they
got food and supplies
>>Ludlow: And he made it home after
all that and he was part of his community?
>>Prickett: When they brought him home and he
was in San Francisco for about three months because
they were all very sick so they didn't let the
families see him for a while and then, he came
back to Duran and was a rancher.
Right after the war he was a recruiter and he was in
Carrizozo, New Mexico.
One of our distant cousins that grew up in Duran, his
mom and him lived in Carrizozo where uncle
Susano was living at the time and he said he would
take them to Duran to visit on the weekend and
that he remembered uncle Susanoo would drive about
80 to 90 miles an hour and this was all dirt roads at
the time and his mother being there going "we're
going to die" because my uncle was just driving
like a maniac, but that's the way he was and I
mentioned that to my aunt and she said "yeah he
always drove really fast" you know I don't know if
it's being on the edge of life you just live that way?
>>Ludlow: Yeah, but he also took care of people, right?
>>Prickett: Yeah, everybody that I've called
to try to get stories from say he was a very generous
man somebody needed help he took care of them.
If they needed money he would give them money.
He gave a lot of money to the church.
It was always important to him to also take care of
the girls in the family, his sisters.
I think perhaps he felt like all the boys got the land.
And that's the way it was in those days.
So they got all this ranch land, my grandmother got a
steamer trunk when she got married and I think he
felt like they needed to be looked after, we need
to be sure they're taken care of so it was always
important that my grandmother and his other
sisters aunt Rosalie and Ursula.
And he outlived all of them so he made sure they
were taken care of.
>>Ludlow: It seems like in a sense your are taking
care of his memory now.
>>Prickett: It's important, it's important
for the family I think, to my aunt, she's thrilled
that we're doing this stuff and taking his things out.
She gave them to me about a year ago, all his medals
when we found them, she's just thrilled we're
sharing his story because he made such a sacrifice for us...
>>Prickett: And, and he did all of that for all of
us, not just his family.
He did it for all of us that live here, all of us
in New Mexico, all of us in the US, and, and so I
think that's, you know, part of why we need to
>>Prickett: I remember one thing about my uncle, too,
is one time when he talked about it, we we were in
Encino for Thanksgiving, at my grandmother's house,
and he started talking about the war and we all
just kind of gathered around cause any time he
talked about it we just, you know, went to listen
and he went to his car and he pulled out this book
and it was this little paperback book and he had
it all tied up and stringed and the pages
were falling out and he had it in a manila
envelope and that tied in string and it was the book
called Give Us This Day and he said that that was
the most accurate depiction he had ever read
and that he remembers being in those events and
the way they're described.
Maybe he always told everybody that because he
couldn't talk about it and this was a way for us to
understand or know what he went through.
>>Ludlow: Did he have a community of veterans he
ever talked with?
>>Prickett: I don't know for sure.
He spent time, I know some of the people that sat
with him at his "office" at Coronado mall were
They would talk.
I know he would go days to the VA hospital, certain
days, and hang out there and talk.
So I don't know if he ever had any counseling or if
he had veterans talk to him about the march, you
know, there's just, there were so many aspects to
that event that were just so difficult, you know,
from that part of it, to just the brutality.
It's like, how do you convey that, you know, how
do you convey it without breaking down.
I mean, I don't know, I sometimes, I start to get
teary-eyed when I talk about him and things that
he did and then I read these things and I just
can't imagine how he could convey that without
breaking down and it probably took a lot of years.
>>Ludlow: I'm really happy that you're here to
communicate it for him.
>>Prickett: I'm trying, it's important.
I'm trying, um one of the things, the greatest
honors that I never thought I would do in my
and I'm glad I got to do, was, I was by chance, I
happened to find out about the Congressional Gold
Medal that they have for the, it's Filipino and
American veterans that were in the Bataan March.
They did a ceremony in Las Cruces and my brother and
I were able to accept that medal on his behalf.
>>Ludlow: That generation, the World War II
generation, so many of them are gone now, there
are very few veterans left, how do we keep those
stories present from that war and why is it
important to keep those stories from that era alive?
>>Prickett: I think it's important because, as time
goes on, that you know you get to three generations
away from that, people forget, eventually it
starts to be watered down, the stories and we're like
yeah that was a terrible thing, but you know, it
was only 65 miles or, you know.
But what happened and the condition they were in
before that and if we don't remember, you know,
what it truly was and all the brutality that
happened, then it can happen again and we don't
value our freedom that we have and it's such a
fragile thing we have and I think if we don't keep
telling these stories and we don't let the next
generation know what these people endured just so
they could do what they do today and then to really
have an understanding, that our freedom is just
going to be commonplace and we can't do that
because that's when you're going to start losing it
and you could end up not having those freedoms and
those things that we so much enjoy now.
>>HARMONY AND FRIENDSHIP.
>>Kimmy: How's everybody doing today?
>>Chrissy: We are the WhiskeyBelles.
We're from Milwaukee. This is called "Borrowed Trouble"
I've been diggin this hole all day long Knee deep
in love but I'm movin on
>>Chrissy: So it all started about 10 years
ago, and then this arrangement has been
around for 8 years.
>>Kimberly Unger: WhiskeyBelles just kind of
had this ring to it and it kind of stuck.
>>Unger: My name is Kimberly Unger.
I play fiddle in the WhiskeyBelles.
My role is I'm basically the only soloist in the
band so I would take what normally would be a guitar
solo and play it on fiddle.
Sweet as pie
>>Sara Moilanen: My name is Sara
Moilanen, and I play bass in the WhiskeyBelles.
I kinda play it in more of a bluegrass style, and it
sort of lays down the base rhythm, 'cause we don't
have a drummer.
So Chrissy and I have to make the rhythm happen.
Worry about your own life You're sweet as pie
Her smile's sincere, but through her eyes You see
the fear of finding love That at the end only leads To tragedy
>>Clobes: My name is Chrissy. I play guitar in the
WhiskeyBelles. It acts as a rhythm instrument.
I think I play it a little more percussively than
most acoustic guitar players.
And so, like Sara said, it replaces the drummer.
Well we got our sound from Trio, which is Dolly
Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris.
So we started off learning that album and kind of
figured out where our sound was.
But again, that was 10 years ago, so we've
definitely evolved from there.
She's lookin' real good In those devil boots
>>Sara Moilanen: I guess you would categorize us as like
>>Unger: We really, I mean, we do everything
from Dolly Parton to Beyonce, you know, and it
just, it really kind of depends on what speaks to
us and you know, I think this would be a really fun
thing to try.
California Your city blew wind and ice
>>Moilanen: We kinda take our own personal take on the songs
that we play.
Like we don't play them like a traditional cover band does.
We kinda, we WhiskeyBelleify it, you know.
We make it our own.
>>Clobes: And "country" is such a dirty word too.
>>Moilanen: I know.
>>Unger: It is.
>>Clobes: Yeah, like I don't even like to say I
I like good music.
>>Moilanen: I like good music, yep.
You keep knock, knock, knocking us down Turn it
around Around, around, around
>>Chrissy: ok, so where do you want to start?
>>Sara: Let's do the whole song.
>>Chrissy: ok. (laughing)
>>Kimmy: 1, 2, 3, 4.
>>Clobes: Usually we come up with an idea or a
song already written, and then we play it and then
it develops from there.
So then we create the arrangement around that to
really fit the three of us.
>>Unger: And I think that holds true for every song
that we do, whether it's an original song or a
>>Moilanen: Right, and most of the time, we're
adapting songs that don't have 3-part harmony into
So it's fun to try and, you know, make all 3 of
our voices work together on stuff that you wouldn't
normally hear it on so.
>>Clobes: And that's the best part, arranging and
being creative with whether it's our songs or
something that you hear on the radio.
I'll take you out, we'll have a ball I'll take
your woman in a barroom brawl And drink the
bottom out of this old world
>>Clobes: It wasn't until that I played with the WhiskeyBelles
where people just stop and they're like, "3 women,
all playing their instruments and all
singing and all just being these powerhouses".
So, it's a lot more fun than solo shows.
>>Unger: My favorite thing about playing out with
these ladies is that we can just do a song a
cappella with it's just our voices.
And I don't think people, I don't think people
realize that it's really us singing at times.
And we just work that hard on our harmonies where,
you know, it's tight.
And so when we stop and just play a cappella and
sing, it's neat.
A friend of mine
>>Unger: When you see us
smiling on stage, it's genuine.
Like, we, there's no other place we'd rather be.
We love to perform and that is, I think it
transcends on to our audience and they really
can feel that joy and that energy.
A lot of people go, "I don't, I don't really like
country but I really like what you guys do".
That, to me, says that we're doing a really great
job at what we do.
Dust is gonna fly, up a head or behind
>>Unger: When you sing with people that you connect with on
such, on a level like this, it's like you're
giving a part of your soul to your audience.
And it's a very vulnerable place to be but it's, it's
so rewarding on so many levels.
And to call these ladies my friends on top of that,
it's just, it really is amazing.
We've just spent so much time together, it brings
us a lot of joy and again, I think that people see
that when they come and see us play.
>>Clobes: Well, we were friends first.
So friends first, and then we became a band.
Drink the bottom out of this old world Drink the
bottom out of this old world
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>>Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
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