Agapito Silva, ADBC Commander
ADBC Commander, 2004-2005
Agapito Silva was born October 22, 1919, in San Marcial, New Mexico. In 1929, the Rio Grande River overflowed and washed the town of San Marcial away, and not one building was left standing. His family moved to Gallup, NM, where he grew up and attended schools. After graduating from high school in May, 1939, he joined the NMNG (New Mexico National Guard), 200th (CAA). That summer they went to Las Vegas, New Mexico for two weeks of training.
On Jan, 6, 1941, the NMNG was inducted into the federal service. They were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they trained until August, 1941, when they were shipped to the Philippine Islands. They arrived in the Philippines on September, 1941, and were stationed in Fort Stotsenburg next to Clark Field.
On Dec. 7, 1941, they were in camp; their "director finder" was being repaired in Manila. Around noon, Japanese bombs started falling, destroying all their planes that were on the ground,. Japanese Zero and Oscar planes strafed them after the bombing stopped.
The 200th (CAA--Coast Artillery) was split and 515th was born shortly after Dec. 7, 1941. He was placed in D Battery of the 515th. The following day they were sent to protect Manila and some oil tanks in Tondo. They were there until late December when he was sent to Bataan. Their three-inch guns were set up in Cabanatuan. He was wounded there having incurred wounds on his left thigh and left foot. He was taken to the Field Hospital which was across the road from D Battery.
On April 9, 1942, they were told to form a front line. Several men from Battery D got aboard a prime move truck and sent to Mariveles. The next day he took a barge to Corregidor. In Corregidor, he was assigned to Battery D, 60th CA, a three-inch gun anti-aircraft battery.
Corregidor surrendered on May 6, 1942. At that time they were placed by the Japanese in groups of ten and were told if one escaped the remaining nine would be shot. Many of the men were dying from dysentery and diarrhea because they were so packed in the beach area which faced the China Sea. Their officers complained about the unsanitary conditions.
Later on they were taken to Cabanatuan with a stopover at Bilibid Prison. They were taken in small boxcars. From the village, they were marched to Cabanatuan Prison Camp. He was there until September 1942.
In September, a detail of 500 men were placed aboard a cattle ship and shipped to Japan. Omuta, a small mining town (Camp 17) was to be his home for the next two years. Word was that this camp was the worst in Japan. The mine they were made to work in was condemned in 1923. While working in the mine he was injured when a ceiling caved in on him. He had a fractured pelvis and four broken ribs. As soon as he recovered, he was sent back into the mines to punch buttons for the conveyer belt. They worked 10-12 hour shifts, (day, swing, and graveyard) digging coal. The Japanese guard and the camp commander were very brutal. Men were beaten and tortured daily.
In August 1945, they were told that the Imperial Japanese army had surrendered. A Chicago war correspondent came into camp and told them about the war ending, jet planes, the Atomic bomb, President Roosevelt's death, etc.
Later in the month of August, he was flown from Najoya, Japan, to Okinawa, then to the Philippines. After being processed in Replacement Camp 29, he was shipped to San Francisco, California, where he arrived on Oct. 15, 1945. From there he went on a hospital train to Burns General Hospital in Santa Fe, NM. A few months later he went to Beaumont Hospital in El Paso, TX. In August, 1946, he was sent to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, California, where he was discharged in December, 1946.
He married Socorro Vigil on Aug, 12, 1946. They have five sons, two daughters and 12 grandchildren. After working 25 years for the federal government, he retired in 1973, He and his wife lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.