Faustino M. Olguin, a lifelong Albuquerque resident who survived the Bataan Death March, died Friday at his home. He was 95.
Olguin served with the New Mexico National Guard’s A Battery, 515th Coast Artillery Regiment in the Philippines during World War II.
In April 1942, Japanese soldiers marched about 78,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war for six days on the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine island of Luzon to a prisoner-of-war camp known as Camp O’Donnell. Many were denied food, water or medical care, and some were stabbed or bayoneted along the 65-mile route. Among the American defenders of Bataan were some 1,800 soldiers from New Mexico, many with the National Guard’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiments. About half of them did not survive the war.
Olguin was shipped from Camp O’Donnell to Japan on a “hell ship” and forced to work in a coal mine for 3½ years until the Japanese surrendered, his son, Toby Olguin, said Monday. While at the coal mine, Olguin was caught with a purloined pencil and was hit on the head with a sabre as punishment, his son said. “Those guys really went through hell,” Toby Olguin said.
His father’s faith helped him survive the war, he said. While at Camp O’Donnell, his father vowed to God that, if he survived, he would walk from Albuquerque to the Santuariò de Chimayó when he returned to New Mexico – a vow he fulfilled. He was a Bronze Star recipient, his son said.
Faustino Olguin married Margaret Padilla on Dec. 7, 1949, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Albuquerque. He was a special delivery carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 26 years, retiring in 1975.
Private services are planned. Burial will be at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Albuquerque.