Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Santa Fe's 400th May Be Closer Than City Thinks

SANTA FE The Ancient and Royal City of Santa Fe soon will be celebrating its 400th anniversary. But when?
Santa Fe’s 350th anniversary was celebrated in 1960, with much hoopla attracting national and international attention. I was a college student at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque at the time, with my attention devoted to many pursuits other than historical celebrations. But I remember the media coverage.
Since then, it has been discovered that Santa Fe is at least three years older, and may have been founded as early as 1605. But local leaders in the City Different seem quite indifferent to the whole idea of moving their 400th birthday celebration to an earlier date.
Even before the 1960 celebration, there were indications that Santa Fe was established a few years prior to 1610. In 1944, UNM history professor Frank Scholes mentioned a 1607 founding date in a footnote, citing material owned by a London documents broker. But no one followed up on it for the 1960 celebration.
It wasn’t until 1994, when someone noticed that footnote in a publication that Museum of New Mexico officials contacted the London firm and learned that 50 years later, the documents still had not been purchased. Museum officials then made an undisclosed offer and the papers now belong to the state of New Mexico.
The 50 pages of material include notarized papers with official seals, some signed by New Mexico’s first governor Juan de Onate. One of the bigger surprises in the documents is the revelation that our state briefly had a second governor, who never was recognized by history books.
When the Spanish viceroy of Mexico City ordered Onate to resign his command because of allegations of cruelty, Juan Martinez de Montoya was named his successor as governor. But Martinez was dismissed when it became evident he was more interested in developing the settlement of Santa Fe and improving relations with the natives than in searching for gold.
These newly-discovered documents were assembled by Martinez’s descendents to win recognition of his service in the settlement of New Mexico. The Martinez family initiated a legal proceeding to petition the crown to grant its ancestor the noble rank of hidalgo.
The discovery of these documents was quite a find because most of New Mexico’s first 82 years of history disappeared during the Pueblo revolt of 1680.
Six years ago, when New Mexico celebrated the 400th anniversary of its founding in 1598, near San Juan Pueblo, north of Espanola, festivities were marred by protests about Onate’s cruelty to the natives.
If Martinez turns out to be Santa Fe’s founder, we could have a politically correct good time, celebrating him as the symbol of the struggle for “perfect friendship among united cultures,” as our state flag pledge proclaims.
Museum staff went to work studying those documents as soon as they were obtained 10 years ago. While speaking at a function at Rancho de Las Golondrinas just south of Santa Fe, sometime after the document study began, Museum of New Mexico Director Tom Chavez told Santa Fe Mayor Debbie Jaramillo, who was in the audience, that further evidence may reveal that Santa Fe was founded as early as 1605.
A few years one way or the other may not be of great importance. But it does put our founding at least as early as Jamestown, Va. It also puts more distance between us and Plymouth, Mass., founded in 1620. It doesn’t get us much closer to St. Augustine, Fla., which received much publicity during Hurricane Frances, as being founded in 1565.
But Santa Fe still has some of its original buildings, which the others can’t claim and it always has been a capital city, which gives us some bragging rights.
A group of community leaders is reportedly beginning efforts to approach the city council with a proposal to move the celebration to at least 2007 and to begin planning efforts immediately.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Principles of Spying

SANTA FE The recommendations presented in the 9/11 Commission report address the basic principles of intelligence gathering that have been with us since the beginning of human interaction.
The basic concepts are not new. They have nothing to do with science and technology. The merely deal with how intelligence should be gathered, organized and disseminated.
Roswell author/historian David Clary, who currently is researching a book on the close relationship that developed between Gen. George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, says our national leaders could learn basically the same principles by studying the intelligence system established by the two that helped our guys win the Revolutionary War. The following are those principles.
1. Know what you want to know. The two made their instructions about the kind of information they wanted from their spies clear and concise, but without giving too much away to their spies, especially in case they were caught.
2. Be critical. Spies must evaluate for their superiors, the source and reliability of their information and offer conclusions. But they must always pass on all information even if appears contradictory or contrary to what the commander wants to hear.
3. Act on intelligence only within your powers. Defer to the commander decisions to act that are within his purview.
4. Keep your ear to the ground. Lafayette read every newspaper he could get, waylaid anyone passing by and wrote letters by the hundreds – all to extract information.
5. Generate information. Lafayette’s letters were designed to elicit information and made friends in many places who would share information.
6. Understand the difference between political, commercial and military intelligence. They often overlap and the information gatherer shouldn’t be the sole judge of who needs what. That is a current problem – called stove piping.
7. Realize that it takes money. Informants don’t provide free information. If they do, be suspicious. The Continental Army was always strapped for money. Lafayette had plenty, which he used to set up elaborate spy networks.
8. Generate misinformation. When Washington expected his orders likely would be intercepted, he sent misinformation. Such deception helped defeat Cornwallis.
9. Recognize that secrets have short lives. Information should be sent on rather than ruminated over too long. This is a glaring weakness of our present system. If information eventually is passed on, it often is outdated, such as the August bank terror alert.
10. Mistakes will happen. It’s part of the process. The current administration’s pre-9/11 intelligence appears lazy, negligent and stupid. But would anyone have done better without the hindsight we have now?
The biggest problems in our current intelligence-gathering system relate to Principle 2. Demands from the White House and the National Security Council for findings that support preconceptions led to our current situation in Iraq.
This is not just a problem of the current administration. Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan made similar demands. Presidents with military or intelligence backgrounds, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bush, Sr. understand Principle 2.
Following the Gulf War, the senior Bush made an eloquent argument for not having gone for the kill. The former CIA chief had listened to his intelligence team’s warnings that if we toppled Iraq, we would spend decades trying to stabilize it. He passed that information on to Bush, Jr. without success.
The 9/11 Commission’s recommendation of an intelligence czar to coordinate all information gathering sounds good, but it has been tried before. Following World War II, we created the Central Intelligence Agency to centralize intelligence in a director of central intelligence. But turf battles among the many existing information-gathering agencies prevented the director from doing his job.
Will one more layer of bureaucracy do the job this time? It might be better just to go back and relearn the intelligence system that helped create our great nation.

Billy Battle Yields Some Good

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE – People in the intellectual community as well as fans of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in this country and around the world have responded to the Billy the Kid case of the three sheriffs and one governor with gratifying strength and unity.
Like an old-fashioned case of chicken pox, once it’s over, it leaves you tougher because you developed an immunity. Good things can come out of bad.
The Billy the Kid Case is said to have begun when the three sheriffs took a trail ride or tipped a few drinks together, or both. What has been so bothersome to its observers over the past year is that something as ridiculous and consuming of public officials’ time and resources was allowed to go on so long.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, it seems from the conclusions of experts in history, science, and the law that there was an effort to hoodwink us. It really was The Lincoln County Hoax.
People have resented being treated like suckers, worrying that officials are taking a free ride with their tax dollars, and realizing that “solving” an already solved murder 123 years old has higher priority in Lincoln and De Baca County law enforcement than solving real murders for bereaved families.
And what was the result? First, nobody was taken in. The three sheriffs and one governor have been scooting between Silver City and Fort Sumner trying to sell their tale to courts and trying to get at the bones of Billy and his mother.
But so far no one is biting. Not a single expert, other than forensic specialist Dr. Henry Lee (being paid by the History Channel and of O.J. Simpson defense fame) has done anything but laugh or get outraged.
Secondly, we started to look closer at the perpetrators. Sheriff Graves is facing recall. Deputy Sheriff Sederwall now shows no sign of being a real deputy. Sheriff Sullivan is clinging to the hope that by saying he is conducting a real criminal investigation, he can shield his departmental finances from public scrutiny. And the governor’s attorney is still talking to dead Billy.
Meanwhile back in the real world, the communities of Fort Sumner and Silver City have taken another look at their heritage of historic sites, visited and cherished by tourists from around the world. And they have found pride, which has united not only the townspeople, but has brought together the towns.
On September 27th in Fort Sumner, when the judge will hear the motions to dismiss the Billy the Kid case, Mayor Terry Fortenberry of Silver City will be there to show solidarity with Mayor Raymond Lopez, standing for Fort Sumner. And last year Mayor Lopez did the same for him.
In fact the people coming in support of the opposition prove that good can come from bad. Frederick Nolan, the world’s expert on Lincoln County War history will be there from England. Leon Metz, Garrett’s famous biographer, will come from Texas. Shared economic goals brings Cissy McAndrew, executive director of the Silver City Chamber of Commerce. Lincoln County Commissioner Leo Martinez is coming too in an effort to heal any rift between Lincoln and De Baca counties.
In fact, the whole thing makes me proud. People have been talking for years about a Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett historic trail that would circle through our state and join the towns that were a part of their history.
That includes Silver City of Billy’s childhood and his mother’s grave, Santa Fe where he was in jail, Old Mesilla where he stood trial, Lincoln where he had his great escape, and Fort Sumner where he and Pat had their fateful showdown and where Billy is buried.
Maybe that trail ride that took a wrong turn could put New Mexicans back on the trail of their unmatchable history of the Old West and its historic sites.
SUN, 9-26-04

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)

Santa Fe Ring

SANTA FE The whole of this place “is under the control of a ring composed of two or three lawyers and their practices and power throughout New Mexico are quite astonishing. At the sitting of the courts men who had been in the graves a dozen years or more were indicted, summoned for various causes, (and) one of the ring defended the case.”
This is not another of my exposes on Gov. Richardson’s attorney Bill Robins speaking for dead Billy the Kid to get him dug up. This is John Tunstall talking about the Santa Fe Ring in 1877. They would murder him in eleven months and the Lincoln County War would start.
Looking at the cast of characters in the current Billy the Kid case makes me wonder if history is repeating itself 127 years later.
In those days the little people, including Billy the Kid, fought the corrupt head of the Santa Fe Ring, Thomas Benton Catron, and his minions, which included Gov. Samuel Axtell, District Attorney William Rynerson, Judge Warren Bristol, Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady and his deputies, Fort Stanton Commander N.A.M. Dudley, merchant James Dolan, and hit men like Jessie Evans.
Though most of the opposition was either murdered or fled, the little people did succeed in getting the governor, Catron, and Dudley removed. Brady fell victim to ambush. Evans left for Texas. But the people were crushed and the power structure regrouped. Catron became the first senator from New Mexico and amassed more land than any American.
What can we learn from our history so that we aren’t doomed to repeat it.? I turned to England’s Frederick Nolan, world famous historian of the Lincoln County War, with my question. Here is his extremely candid answer.
Nolan says, “I have watched the Billy the Kid case with despair and anger. After devoting fifty years to writing the history, I find people without knowledge, expertise, or research presuming literally to make up their own version and foist it on the American public. Worst of all, no matter how many facts they are given by historians, scientists, or lawyers, they proceed undaunted and unimpeded like some terrifyingly irrational and destructive force of nature. The truth makes no difference to their process of invention.”
It reminded me of Sheriff William Brady in 1878, who illegally imprisoned William Bonney, before the was The Kid, and Fred Waite, who were deputy constables, and Town Constable Atanacio Martinez. When asked by what authority he did it, he answered, “I have the power.”
Nolan pointed out that the Lincoln County War was fought on many levels. The Santa Fe Ring was investigated by President Rutherford B. Hayes and British Ambassador Sir Edward Thornton. In New Mexico John Tunstall and Attorney Alexander McSween naively turned to the law for protection. And the people fought in the streets.
There are some who say they can give the old names to the modern antagonists. And there are many calling the year-long battle of the Billy the Kid case the Second Lincoln County War.
But my question is, “have we learned anything in 126 years?” It occurred to me that the problem with history lessons is those motivated by self-gain and greed don’t want to change. So Santa Fe Rings always lurk in the shadows.
The real question then is how people who cherish truth can protect their intellectual heritage and their achievements in history, science and law.
The answer seems simple. Just look at the year of unrelenting opposition to the Billy the Kid case mounted by people from every walk of life, from coffee shop conversations and e-mail chats, to town council meetings, to experts speaking out in the press, to courts of law.
The decisive battle of the first Lincoln County War was July 19, 1878. Some are calling the Fort Sumner Billy the Kid Case hearing on September 27th the big day of the Second Lincoln County War. We’ll see then what we’ve learned.

Kid's Case Really about Pat Garrett

SANTA FE The ironic twist to the Billy the Kid case is that it’s not really about Billy. It’s all about Sheriff Pat Garrett. According to the three sheriffs, their quest to dig up Billy and his mother began as an effort to prove that Garrett shot Billy and, therefore, Brushy Bill, et. al. were fakes and Garrett was a true hero.
The trouble is that nearly everyone already knew that. Practically the entire town of Fort Sumner filed past Billy’s body on the carpenter’s workbench that night and the next day. Billy was well-known in the community, so it would quickly have become evident if the body had been someone else’s.
So it became necessary to convince the public that over a century of investigative work by respected historians may have been wrong. And that made Garrett the criminal in the official criminal investigation brought by the sheriffs.
So suddenly our hero became the suspect in a conspiracy with his supposed friend Billy to kill an innocent man to substitute for the Kid. And Garrett is also implicated in helping Billy escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse two months earlier by supplying a gun he used while killing Garrett’s two deputies.
Billy was pulled into the case because he is an international celebrity, whose name immediately causes the media to take notice. Digging up graves is also a real attention grabber. And so is DNA, the new scientific tool that solves everything.
That doesn’t include 123-year-old murder cases, but who’s to know the difference? Unfortunately for the sheriffs and governor, the state Office of the Medical Investigator knew the difference and that’s why the case had to go to court.
The most credible living source on Pat Garrett is Leon Metz, Garrett’s famous biographer. Metz says, “There is no question in my mind that Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid. A claim to the contrary is preposterous. Besides the irrefutable evidence of identification of the body, Garrett was a very proud man, who could not have lived with that lie.”
And as to the friendship motive for murder claimed in the Billy the Kid Case, Metz says, “I can say there exists no trace of evidence that they were friends. At best they may have been acquainted in 1878 when both lived in Fort Sumner.”
Among the many holes in this Swiss cheese case is the question of motive. Facts show that prior to nailing the Kid on July 14, 1881, Pat had two other chances. On December 19, 1880 he and his posse ambushed Billy and pals in Fort Sumner and killed Tom O’Folliard. Three days later at Stinking Springs he killed Charlie Bowdre thinking he was Billy because he walked out of the rock house wearing Billy’s distinctive sombrero. That’s not how friends treat friends.
Though the three sheriffs and one governor are willing to dig up graves to find DNA in their “search for the truth,” there is plenty of Garrett DNA still walking around.
In an affidavit attached to their “criminal investigation” a man swears that Garrett’s widow told him in 1940 when he was a boy that Garrett had not killed the Kid. Unfortunately she died in 1936. So the question is why didn’t they question a real live Garrett? The answer may be their unique investigative style of avoiding anything that disagrees with what they want to find.
Since Gov. Richardson was considerate enough to provide a lawyer to speak for dead Billy, maybe we should put the word out that Pat needs one too, so he can sue the sheriffs and governor for defamation of his character.
So a case that began as an amorphous effort to clear the good name of the patron saint of Lincoln County sheriffs, reveal the hoaxters trying to be Billy, increase tourism and get a few people their 15 minutes of fame, has now become a hoax itself.

The Golden Bolo

SANTA FE Something strange happened when Gov. Richardson visited Silver City on September 8. He told the officials there that they “had nothing to worry about” when it came to the grave of Catherine Antrim, mother of Billy the Kid in their Memory Lane Cemetery. There are several reasons why that statement is strange.
First, he was referring to the Billy the Kid Case, which is a murder investigation by the sheriffs of Lincoln and De Baca Counties and a supposedly deputized mayor. The case involves their year-long attempt to get at her bones. How can a governor control the outcome of a criminal case enough to tell officials “not to worry?”
Second, Silver City has plenty of reasons to worry. As many know, the governor joined the Billy the Kid case himself last November by bringing in Bill Robins, a high powered Texas attorney friend of his to speak for the dead Billy the Kid and say he wanted his mother dug up. Since the dead don’t speak in court, the governor had already given Silver City a taste of his operating style.
Third, Silver City officials fought back and refused to be steamrolled by that juggernaut of executive power. The grave was not violated for the governor’s publicity stunt. And in a result which appears undeniably connected, this year the governor line-item vetoed the $250,000 which the legislature had already approved for desperately needed expansion of Memory Lane Cemetery.
Fourth, it was recently reported that Richardson’s Texas lawyer is still on the loose in New Mexico. He appears tired of speaking for the dead, since it was announced on August 12 that he would be representing the three live sheriffs. They plan to return to Silver City if their forensic expert, paid for by the History Channel, finds DNA on an old carpenter’s bench on which dead Billy may have laid.
Meanwhile, there is even more action in the other battleground of the Billy the Kid case -- Fort Sumner, the site of Billy’s grave and the current target of these DNA-crazed investigators. On October 1 of last year Gov. Richardson visited and told Mayor Raymond Lopez he “had nothing to worry about that grave.” It happens that Mayor Lopez was all dressed up for the visit, wearing a limited edition bolo with a golden figure of Billy which was so realistic that the cartridges in his gun belt and the trigger on his Winchester carbine were visible.
A New Mexico artist had made the figures as tokens of appreciation for those opposing the Billy the Kid caper and as a symbol of their solidarity in protecting the history of Billy the Kid and its historic sites. Because of a foundry fluke three figures had turned golden. That was one.
It caught the eye of the highest executive in the state. He asked for it. Mayor Lopez said, “I’ll give it to you if you give your word that you’ll protect Fort Sumner from the case.” The governor did and walked off with the golden bolo.
On February 24 of this year, Richardson’s attorney, Bill Robins, filed in the De Baca County District Court to get at Billy’s bones. And not only was dead Billy a petitioner with the three sheriffs, but outrageously, he was the ONLY petitioner in a document to remove the respected Judge Ricky Purcell.
And now on September 27, Fort Sumner will be fighting for its economic life in that court, as attorneys will present motions to dismiss the ill-advised case. And to raise money for the legal defense, Mayor Lopez had to sell cupcakes.
Of course Mayor Lopez wants that golden bolo back. And for the artist it has become a symbol of broken faith and abuse of power.
So remember, if Gov. Richardson says, “You have nothing to worry about,” start worrying. Because actions speak louder than words.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Billy's Pardon Has Nothing To Do With Billy's Bones

SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson says the reason he got himself involved in the Billy the Kid case is that he needs to decide whether to pardon Billy.
Among the governor and the three sheriffs, there is a list of reasons, almost as long as the list of Billy’s alleged victims, about why they are in this case.
It is an official criminal investigation, an effort to find out who Pat Garrett killed in Fort Sumner, an effort to clear his name, an effort to learn what happened in the Lincoln County Court House when two deputies were shot and Billy escaped, an effort to promote tourism, an effort to dig up Billy and his mom to find matching DNA, an effort to prove Brushy Bill and other pretenders are fakes and an effort to decide whether to pardon Billy.
So far, the case has focused on digging up Billy and his mother for their DNA. The quest hit high center when the state Office of the Medical Investigator said the search would be valueless. So the sheriffs and governor trotted off to court to find a judge who would overrule DNA experts on their subject of expertise. That has taken nine months and stretched the budgets of Silver City and Fort Sumner to the breaking point.
During that time, Gov. Richardson has insisted he wants the DNA even though it has nothing to do with pardoning Billy.
Here’s the story on Billy’s pardon. In 1879, Gov. Lew Wallace seems to have promised Billy a pardon for his Lincoln County War-related murders. The victims were Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady, his deputy George Hindman, and bounty-hunting farmer Buckshot Roberts.
In exchange, Billy would testify to a grand jury about the murder of attorney Huston Chapman to which he was a witness. Billy testified but the governor didn’t hold up his end of the deal. Billy wrote many eloquent letters from prison pleading with the governor to live up to his word.
The pardon never came. The reason for Wallace’s inaction is unclear, but it has nothing to do with whom Garret shot three years later, and certainly nothing to do with anyone’s DNA.
When Gov. Richardson announced his support of the sheriffs’ case more than a year ago, there was no talk of grave-digging. The governor talked of a series of hearings in Billy the Kid historic sites around the state.
That possibility is still open. Experts in history and law could conduct debates or mock trials designed to reveal the various pressures and considerations weighing upon Gov. Wallace’s decision to do nothing. Those many pressures would provide a good overview for the public of the multi-faceted Lincoln County War.
But instead, Gov. Richardson has allowed himself to be drug along by the sheriffs in their misguided tangle of contradictions and trashistory. He has appointed a lawyer to channel Billy’s purported desire to be dug up along with his mother. The lawyer has been helping the sheriffs in their efforts even though those efforts have nothing to do with whether Billy should be granted a pardon or not.
It is downright inspiring that our governor would take time out of his schedule to help a spirit in need. Apparently his motive is increased tourism, but the controversy over whether Billy and his mother really are buried in Fort Sumner and Silver City hasn’t helped tourism in those communities, according to local businesses and a state Tourism Department report.
And if bodies are exhumed and no matching DNA is found, as the Office of the Medical Investigator predicts, the effect on those communities will be considerable, especially on Fort Sumner. And that is in addition to the money they already have had to spend to defend their municipal cemeteries on behalf of families with relatives in nearby plots.
So let’s get on with investigating a pardon and forget about court action. Billy’s pardon has nothing to do with Billy’s bones.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Billy and Golaith

SANTA FE Add up three sheriffs, one governor, and a $50 million a year law firm and you get power with a big “P.” Or a giant with a big “G,” as in Goliath.
Add up in opposition, the little village of Fort Sumner plus the little town of Silver City and you have courage with a big “C” or determination with a big “D,” as in David. And it all spells out the Billy the Kid Case.
For the past year, these two economically depressed communities have stood up to the relentless onslaught of frivolous litigation to get at the bones of Billy and his mother. Their saga is a tale of challenged citizens uniting in a common cause.
Forced to use the limited time resources of their elected officials and overburdened courts, they also had to live with the risk of economic retaliation. Some reported threats that “You can’t stop us. We’re backed by the governor and the biggest lawyers.”
Since we are about to have a big showdown on September 27 when the Billy the Kid Case will be heard in district court in Fort Sumner, let’s take a closer look at the protagonists.
The Village of Fort Sumner with 1200 residents, a budget of about $650,000.00, and a per capita income of about $13,000, relies on tourists for approximately half its revenues. That means visitors from over the country and world coming to the Billy the Kid grave. More profoundly, many of the residents are natives. The Billy the Kid heritage is part of their identity, like their own family histories.
To give you a feel, one bright twelve year old said she would chain herself to the grave if they tried to get at it, so they would be charged with child abuse! Mayor Raymond Lopez is not only standing for his town, but was selling cupcakes to raise money for its Billy the Kid Legal Defense Fund.
The town of Silver City, with 10,000 residents, a budget of about $7 million and a per capita income of about $18,500 has had an even more grim experience. From October 2003 to January of this year they have had litigation involving two petitions to exhume Billy’s mother -- one of them brought by the governor.
Though Silver City and Grant County had supported Bill Richardson by landslide numbers in the 2002 election, he never consulted with them and never bothered to respond to their petition to back off, signed by the mayor, town councilors, head of the Chamber of Commerce and director of their museum.
One of the town councilors said, “Because of our attempt to protect the sanctity of our graves and our economic base, we have suffered Richardson’s wrath.”
Richardson’s line-item veto of a legislative appropriation cut $250,000, which appears chillingly vindictive in that it was for the expansion of Memory Lane Cemetery, where Billy’s mother is buried. Only 60 plots remain. And as a touching note, there are always flowers left by tourists on her grave.
On December 1, 2003, Gov. Richardson stated on KOB TV that he wanted DNA from Billy and his mother, even though his own Office of the Medical Investigator had already refused exhumation, saying it was valueless.
Was it coincidence that he decided to weigh in just seven days before the Silver City court was to hear the case for digging up Billy’s mother? And was it coincidence that the judge kicked that political football to Fort Sumner for it to worry about?
Gov. Richardson has tried to steamroll Grant and De Baca county district courts, has backed the three sheriffs in a case which seems to be using taxpayer money for personal gain, has refused to stop despite the pleas of elected officials, and has punished the communities for defending themselves.
Richardson talks about pardoning Billy. Maybe Billy should pardon him. Everyone knows the outcome of the first David and Goliath and many are hoping history will repeat itself.
And in modern times we don’t use slingshots. We vote.

Sheriff Gary Graves

SANTA FE The three sheriffs carrying out the Billy the Kid Case Caper may not always have impressed New Mexicans with their thinking, but they have made New Mexicans think.
For example, people have had to decide if they cared whether Garrett shot the Kid, since the lawmen were saying he didn’t. But what got me to thinking was just what do officers of the law owe their communities as a part of their jobs?
And that same question seems to have gotten the Fort Sumner people thinking, since after a year of watching their De Baca County Sheriff Gary Graves running all over New Mexico trying to dig up bodies dead well over a hundred years in the pursuit of a murderer dead 96 years, they seem to have had their fill. They are in the process of having him recalled.
At least his two pals in this endeavor, Sheriff Tom Sullivan and Mayor of Capitan Steve Sederwall, who seems to go by the nick name “Deputy Sheriff” (since it is unclear that he is a real one), at times claimed that they were performing their antics to promote tourism in Lincoln County, or maybe in all of New Mexico.
The tourism claims were made when they were asked why they were spending taxpayer money on a criminal investigation of a 123-year-old murder. Tourism Secretary Mike Cerletti confirmed to me that there was no state tourism money involved, but at least the sheriffs’ motives sounded good-hearted.
But what about Sheriff Graves’ motives? Since the whole basis of the Billy the Kid Case evidently is to prove that Garrett did not shoot the Kid, it would mean that Fort Sumner’s tourist pitch “We’ve got the Kid” would have to be changed to “We’ve got the unknown cowboy.”
Somehow I don’t think that will fly. Even though law enforcement has nothing to do with economic development or tourism, at least his two compadres are staying on the right side of the tracks. But it was pretty clear to Fort Sumner residents that where Graves was heading was economic destruction, since their village depends on Billy the Kid tourism.
And when I looked at his use of public money for the Billy the Kid case, he was suspiciously billing his taxpayers for two different phones and gas for his infamous county vehicle called the “Golden Nugget” while his route took him and it all the way to Silver City for the Billy case hearing there last December 8.
His county commissioners wrote a unanimously signed letter opposing exhumation. Apparently they could think of better uses for their tax dollars. For example, one could guess that they were thinking about crime control since he was their Sheriff.
Also Graves has been very secretive about his own separate filing of the Billy the Kid Case in his De Baca County Sheriff’s Department. He never even answered my request for a copy, and as far as I can gather, I’m not alone in being given the cold shoulder.
What does he think he is hiding? Or like Sheriff Tom Sullivan in Lincoln County, is he worrying that his “murder investigation” will be interfered with if word gets out to Garrett that they’re after him?
Maybe I’m old fashioned or maybe I’ve watched too many cowboy movies. I thought a sheriff was the good guy who rescues people in distress (live ones) and then rides off into the sunset because he wasn’t looking for anything in return – such as book and movie deals.
Gov. Bill Richardson’s Attorney Bill Robins claimed he could speak for the dead Billy the Kid in New Mexico courts of law to help the sheriffs win their nonsensical case.
Maybe the lesson is that you couldn’t mess with Billy alive and it’s just as risky to mess with him dead. Because the only grave Graves seems to have been digging this past year is his own political one.

The Mysterious Bill Robins

SANTA FE The mysterious Attorney Bill Robins, appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson last November to represent the dead Billy, arrived like an action hero just in the nick of time, as the effort to exhume Billy’s mother was faltering in the Silver City District Court.
And on top of those heroics, Robins offered his work pro bono. Also, there have been rumors he is helping to pay the costs. In my mind, an attorney who not only works for free, but also foots the bills, automatically qualifies as a super hero.
Robins wouldn’t have been so mysterious had he just stuck with representing dead Billy. Sure, his legal ploy of having the deceased request his own and his mother’s exhumation left me a little queasy. But I would have merely criticized him for a warped sense of humor.
Unfortunately, he also became one of the attorneys joining the three sheriffs in their petition to dig up Billy’s mother. And he represented the sheriffs in their petition to dig Billy up. Now it is reported that he plans to represent the sheriffs if they go back to Silver City with their supposed DNA scraped off a supposed carpenter’s bench on which the dead Billy lay.
Since we are in the Age of Information, I went to its source, my computer, into which I typed “Heard, Robins, Lubel, Cloud, and Greenwood LLP,” the name of his Houston, Texas law firm, which has branches in Santa Fe and Hobbs.
In business since 1998, these enterprising men whose practice is civil litigation in personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, class action cases, and representation of Fortune 500 companies, brought in “an excess of 50 million dollars” for their clients in 2001.
Then I hit my keyboard with “Governor Bill Richardson political contributions,” and I got for 2002 from “Follow the Money: Nation’s Most Complete Resource On Money In State Politics” that this generous attorney’s firm had given $72,000.00 plus $2,500.00 to the lucky man. And Robins had himself topped it off with $12,100.00.
My calculator told me that equals $86,600.00, and my brain told me that Robins et al had to have been one of Richardson’s biggest financial backers.
Robin’s law firm has the slogan “dedicated to their clients needs.” That’s real nice. But who was his client in the Billy the Kid Case? Richardson hired him. Since he represents New Mexico, it means the state did too. But Robins says in his court documents that he represents dead Billy.
Leaving the spirit world out of this, the dead do not exist in a court of law. That leaves only the governor and the state as clients, plus the three sheriffs. That means attorney Robins is participating in a New Mexico criminal investigation into murder as an act of charity for the governor, the state, and the police.
But it gets more sticky. An attorney can be appointed only by a judge and for someone indigent. The governor is not a judge. Billy is not indigent; he’s dead. And the sheriffs and Lincoln County, which they brought in, aren’t indigent either. So can someone solve the mystery of why Attorney Robins came in the first place, and how did he get into our courts?
Try a different angle. If Robins can speak FOR the dead Billy, he must be able to speak TO him. Then why didn’t Billy hire him? In fact, by hiring Robins, Richardson proved that he is the client.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of pals. After all, New Mexico has immortalized the concept on the Billy the Kid tombstone, which has “pals” carved in granite. So maybe Attorney Robins is best pals with our governor.
Then they can explain to all of us lacking friends with 50 million dollar businesses, just what’s in the Billy the Kid case for them. Self-styled Deputy Steve Sederwall’s Mayor’s Report of May 2003, may be the answer. “I know it is a crazy idea but won’t it be fun?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Billy's Big Day

SANTA FE – If you are Billy the Kid, you can have big days when you’re alive and when you’re dead. That’s the advantage of being famous.
And coming up September 27 is the biggest day in Billy’s history other than his hanging trial with Judge Bristol in Mesilla on April 9, 1881, his great escape from the old Lincoln County Courthouse on April 28 of that same year, and his being shot to death by Garrett a few months later on July 14.
September 27 is when the De Baca County District Court in Fort Sumner will decide if Billy’s bones will be allowed to lie at rest, and if it is the three sheriffs’ Billy the Kid case that will be buried instead. That is why I have Billy on the brain this month.
Over the past year we have seen the mayors and county commissioners of Silver City and Fort Sumner united in opposition to the attempts to get at the bones of Billy’s mother and Billy himself in their respective cemeteries. We have had the Office of the Medical Investigator refuse exhumation permits.
We have heard Frederick Nolan, the preeminent historian of the subject and Dr. Edward Blake, arguably the country’s most prominent forensic expert in DNA analysis, calling it a hoax. But we have not seen any sign of its perpetrators backing down.
Dr. Gale Cooper, a Harvard trained M.D. psychiatrist and an amateur historian, whom I quoted before on the reason the Billy the Kid legend has such a powerful hold on its fans, said, “I have followed the case closely. And it appears to me that these citizens and experts are not only responding to the specifics of the case, but are reacting to the brazen use of police and executive power to manufacture misinformation for personal gain.”
Cooper continued, saying, “There seems to be an attempt to profit from the reflected glory of a famous and cherished piece of history of the American West. What the promulgators may not have realized is that moral outrage is a more powerful motivator than greed in causing people to take a stand.”
Historians and scientists have already taken their stand on the Lincoln County Hoax. Now it will have its day in court. The tone of the three sheriffs’ and one governor’s case was already set in March when Texas lawyer, Bill Robins, brought in by Gov. Richardson, using only dead Billy as a client, petitioned the court to remove the respected local Judge Ricky Purcell. And he was removed.
Attorney Adam Baker of Kennedy & Han in Albuquerque and Attorney Herb Marsh of El Paso will be arguing for dismissal of the case. And Fort Sumner Mayor Raymond Lopez will be standing for his village. They will be arguing that the case be thrown out for many reasons.
It is not a criminal investigation since there is no criminal (Pat Garrett is dead) and no investigation; the case was closed in 1881 and to reopen it is double jeopardy. Since it is not real, the three sheriffs have no right to be in court as officers of the law. And they have no other reason.
It has no historical merit because evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt that Garrett killed the Kid. And the case can never establish the contrary, since the precise location of the remains of Billy and his mother are uncertain, so DNA is useless for comparison. Lastly their client dead Billy does not exist.
The Lincoln County Hoax is about to have its day in court on September 27, 2004. Most, except for the three sheriffs, one governor, their legal eagles, and those hoping to profit from their caper, hope it will be its last.
So if you want to be a part of New Mexico history in the making, the place to be is Fort Sumner on September 27th. I’ll be there myself.
Jay Miller can be reached at

Monday, September 13, 2004

Is Presidential Visit Worth a Ruined Runway?

SANTA FE – Several of New Mexico’s larger communities have been honored by numerous visits from the presidential and vice presidential candidates this summer. Las Cruces, Roswell and Albuquerque have been getting much attention.
Farmington, Rio Rancho, Las Vegas and Gallup also have had visits. Santa Fe has been conspicuous by its lack of attention, likely because it is highly Democrat, with few swing voters. It also could be due to not having much of an airport and even less of a train station.
Las Cruces doesn’t have much of an airport either. Like Santa Fe, it is close enough to a major airport that it isn’t practical for the big birds to fly into either city. Air Force One usually lands in El Paso or Albuquerque and presidents will take smaller craft to Las Cruces and Santa Fe. On one occasion President Bush landed at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo and the president took a smaller plane to Las Cruces.
But on Aug. 26, President Bush was anxious to get on to Albuquerque and Farmington, so the huge 757s carrying the president and press corps and the even bigger C-17 cargo planes carrying equipment landed on Las Cruces’ weak runways. And even worse, they landed on the airport’s weakest of three runways, which they had been asked not to use.
A large amount of cracking appeared, along with two-inch ruts at the intersection with another runway. The runway has had to be closed and will remain that way until an estimated $1 million of repairs is done. Fortunately the runway held up well enough that none of the planes was damaged. That would have made national news in a big way.
It is unclear why the pilots decided to land on that runway. Possibly they weren’t told of its poor condition. An airport spokesman says when he warned a presidential advance team about the runway, the answer was that it looked OK to them.
Did the Secret Service know the runway wasn’t strong enough to handle the president’s plane? If it did, its action in not being super cautious was very out of character. Secret Service specifications for ensuring the safety of a president require excessive caution. Platforms, for instance, have to be constructed of extremely high-grade lumber and built to tremendous strength standards.
The reason for landing on the puny runway may have been that the wind direction made it best. For safety reasons, that may have outweighed the fact that it might hurt the runway. As long as it didn’t hurt the planes, or most importantly, the president, then who cares about the runway. That’s the city’s problem.
All the federal agencies involved, plus the president’s campaign committee, are pointing their fingers at each other. No one is responsible, so Las Cruces is left holding the bag. Airports, like highways, are primarily financed by federal money.
Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace hopes this will move his city’s airport up on the federal the list, but people who have dealt with the federal government say don’t bet on it.
Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez ended up deciding his city would pay the towing costs of legally-parked cars hauled from the Albuquerque train station because Secret Service agents felt they were endangering Sen. John Kerry on his trip to the city. Chavez billed the Secret Service. There will be cows grazing on the Las Cruces runway before Albuquerque sees that money.
Some of the towns lucky enough to get multiple visits from presidential candidates are trying to bill those campaign committees for their exorbitant expenses. Those costs often are more than just police overtime. Davenport, Iowa had three bank robberies the day both Bush and Kerry visited, and two more robberies the next day.
Democrat vice-presidential candidate John Edwards visited Las Cruces the same day as the president’s visit. We haven’t heard of any bank robberies that day, but a ruined runway is even worse.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Piltdown Billy

SANTA FE The three sheriffs, tirelessly pushing the Billy the Kid case for a year, may have accomplished their goal, though not exactly as they intended.
Lacking historical expertise or the advice of an expert historian, they have nevertheless tried to change the history of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Since few doubted the story of Pat killing the Kid, it occurred to me that the sheriffs wanted to make a contribution to New Mexico history. And I think they did.
There hasn’t been a world-class historical hoax since the early 1900’s when a man named Charles Dawson claimed to have found the “missing link” in a gravel pit in England. He called his pieces of braincase and chunk of jawbone Piltdown Man. It took almost 50 years for someone to realize it was an orangutan’s jaw with filed down teeth and 600 year old skull pieces. Why did Dawson do it? Well, he gave Piltdown Man his name: “dawsoni.” And maybe it was his version of “punked” humor.
The Piltdown Hoax probably has not had competition because it takes almost as much work to pull off a great historical hoax as to conduct actual research. I’m not counting the Loch Ness monster. Monsters are easy. You just say you saw one and take a blurry photograph.
Webster’s Dictionary says to hoax is “to trick into accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous.” That brings up the missing link in a hoax: people who believe preposterous things. Seems we hit the magic moment. The sheriffs may have created history’s Frankenstein’s monster, but Gov. Richardson has kept it alive.
In fact, the Governor made his own contribution. Try out the definition of a hoax on his appointment of attorney Bill Robins from Texas to represent the dead Billy the Kid as a client seeking to have himself and his mother dug up from their graves.
The famous Billy the Kid historian Frederick Nolan called the sheriffs’ criminal case filed in the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department a hoax because it looks for all the world like a heavily researched document chock full of footnotes. Except not a single reference has to do with whether Garrett killed Billy. Since many of the sources are rare or on microfilm it is not too far fetched to think that they never dreamed that anyone would check it out. But they were wrong.
The case is also set up as a murder investigation with “evidence.” Part of that evidence is the alleged carpenter’s bench on which dead Billy lay. Dr Henry Lee, a forensic expert, famous for seeking limelight and paid by the History Channel, was brought in to find blood on it. And by golly within hours, he did.
Lee is proceeding to test it for DNA. The problem is that forensic experts around the country said that blood has never been proven to exist much over 50 years. But it was announced in a newspaper that Attorney Bill Robins would again offer his services, this time to take that “DNA” back to Silver City in hopes of getting at Billy’s mother’s bones.
Since the case is a real criminal investigation, courts have to be tricked also. The hardest trick is obviously calling it a criminal investigation when Garrett, the criminal, has been dead for 96 years. And the case was closed in 1881. It also was discovered that Mayor of Capitan Steve Sederwall, who participated in the case as a deputy sheriff, wasn’t one at all.
Motivation is a fascinating part of hoaxing. Fame is tempting. There has been talk of book and film deals. But since these public officials used their time and workplaces for the case, I would throw in the possibility of personal gain at taxpayer expense.
But thanks to the three sheriffs, now New Mexico may not only be home to the Legend of Billy the Kid, but also may be the birthplace of the Lincoln County Hoax: the greatest of them all!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Taking the Pseudo out of NM Science

SANTA FE New Mexico projects a dual image to the world as a state rich in history and science and also as a state awash in trash history and pseudo-science.
We are known as the birthplace of the atomic age and the location of continuing cutting-edge research in nuclear energy at two national scientific laboratories in Los Alamos and Albuquerque.
Rocket science began in New Mexico with Dr. Robert Goddard’s experiments at Roswell in the 1930s. It has continued at White Sands Missile Range since 1946. And now we have landed the X-Prize competition for commercial rocketry, which should bring space-age industry to our state.
The Mercury, Apollo and shuttle programs also have had a close association with our state. Besides supplying a number of astronauts for the programs, the Mercury astronauts were screened and partly trained here, largely using information obtained from the acceleration and deceleration experiments of Col. John Paul Stapp at Holloman Air Force Base, near Alamogordo.
And astronaut Harrison Schmitt of Silver city, not only walked on the moon, he trained the Apollo astronauts in moon geology in our state.
New Mexico Tech, at Socorro, is conducting earth-shaking experimental research on explosives that is helping with the war on terror, in addition to advances in mining and law enforcement. It also is pioneering research on thunderstorms, lightning and other meteorological phenomena.
Just west of Socorro, on the St. Augustine Plains, the Very Large Array radio-telescopes have enlarged our understanding of the universe to include objects the eye cannot see. They are a magnificent sight from Highway 60, just west of Magdalena, and a favorite of movie makers.
Besides all this futuristic research, New Mexico has a rich scientific past. The projectile points found at Clovis, Folsom and elsewhere in the state, have revolutionized anthropology by setting back the time for the earliest presence of humans in the Americas by thousands of years and revealing surprising technological advancement.
In addition, New Mexico also has been the subject of much groundbreaking research in many scientific fields, including archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and biology.
But New Mexico also has been home to UFO lore throughout the state. The late Rep. Steve Schiff got a congressional investigation into the Roswell incident. And now Gov. Bill Richardson wants another one. Despite the VLA’s cutting-edge science, its telescopes mainly are known as backdrop for movies about little green men.
Former Sen. Schmitt got an FBI investigation of cattle mutilations in the state. Former Rep. Bill Richardson got an investigation into the Taos Hum. Now Gov. Bill Richardson wants Billy the Kid dug up. That not only trashes good science but good history too. We’re back to dime-novel lore.
New Mexico’s spirituality, dating back to ancient cultures, also must be mentioned. Centered in Santa Fe, the state has more than its share of alternative medicine, New Age lifestyles, crystal fields, force fields, past life regressions, you name it.
Can legitimate science and history coexist with pseudo-science and history? There is a market for both. But does pseudo- science and pseudo-history erode our appreciation for the real thing and allow important sites to fall to development, for instance?
What is important is to differentiate between the two. And sometimes they are divided by a rather fine line. For awhile, the X-Prize competition was thought to be a bit far out. But now it has moved into the realm of possibility.
Historian Dave Clary of Roswell has recently tried to draw that line in some important areas. First he investigated the popular UFO phenomena in his book “Before and After Roswell: The Flying Saucer in America 1947-1999.”
Then he moved on to rocket pioneer Robert Goddard and demonstrated how his work in Roswell contributed to Americans walking on the moon just 30 years later. That book, “Rocket Man: Robert Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age” is now out in paperback and available in bookstores.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Colleagues Question Dr. Lee's Forensics

SANTA FE – Our three Sherlockian sheriffs keep plugging away at the Billy the Kid Case, their “criminal investigation” of whether Garrett killed the Kid, despite the fact that legitimate historians are not buying that any case exists.
Their latest move is adding forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, who received media attention, though not great credibility, helping defend O.J. Simpson. They brought him here to test their carpenter’s bench on which they claim dead Billy lay, a shot up washstand, and floorboards in the old Lincoln County Courthouse. From those few hours of swabbing and scraping, he concluded that the Billy the Kid Case was “legitimate.”
How could Dr. Lee make that leap of faith? I decided to get opinions about the case from the country’s most prominent forensic experts. Tom Mauriello, author of a textbook on forensic science, director of a crime lab for 27 years, and consultant on a Discovery Channel program on ax-murderer Lizzie Borden said, “Dr. Lee claimed he found blood on the bench, but the Luminol he used also tests positive for bacteria, detergents, and metal.”
Lee said he used laser technology to determine the trajectory of the washstand’s bullet. But Mauriello says “a trajectory is meaningless if you don’t know the locations of Pat, Billy, or the washstand at the crime scene.” And it has nothing to do with whether Pat Garrett killed the Kid anyway.
Dr. Clyde Snow, perhaps the world’s most famous forensic anthropologist doing cases both criminal and historical and as varied as remains from Custer’s last stand, Tutankhamen, victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as mass graves in atrocities against humanity said, “It is not ethically responsible for a forensic expert to take on a case of historical nature which involves exhumation, unless professional historians feel that it merits scientific inquiry.
I would not participate in the Billy the Kid Case for that reason,” Snow said. He also added, “Science can never prove that flying saucers do not exist.” I took that as a polite way of saying that the case belongs in science fiction, not science.
Dr. Edward Blake, DNA forensic expert at Forensic Sciences Associates in California, added that he does not know of any blood sample significantly greater than 50 years old that is small and has been successfully typed using DNA technology. Billy’s blood would be 123 years old.
Brian Wraxall, a 40-year forensic expert in DNA, working at Serological Research Institute in California and trained in Scotland Yard, pointed out more problems for Dr. Lee. All he can hope for in his next step of taking his sample to Orchid Cellmark lab is finding human DNA. But that would not prove blood or its age.
The DNA could be from a sneeze last week. And “DNA would accumulate from everyone who contacted that bench over the years. And once DNA mixes, it cannot be separated.” He also said the obvious: “If Billy bled on it, someone that day would have washed it off.” Billy was not a saint from whom you would save relics.
In fact Dr. Blake felt that since the bench is not 100 percent provable as authentic, there is not even a starting point for a chain of evidence. He said, “The kindest thing I can say about the three sheriffs is that they are pulling a hoax in order to get their names in the paper.”
And in our own New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, Director Dr. Ross Zumwalt and forensic anthropologist Dr. Debra Komar already have refused exhumation in the case since the location of the bodies is uncertain. So there is no DNA for comparison.
Wraxall said the case reminded him of “a police line up with no reference picture of the criminal.”
So we have Dr. Lee’s sample that can never be proven to be old or blood or from just one person that he wants to match with remains with uncertain identities to figure out if Pat killed Billy.
It doesn’t look good, but I do have a job for him. Gov. Richardson has another pet project of crucial importance to New Mexicans: flying saucers. It sounds right up his alley.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Bataan Prisoners' Returned to SFe's Bruns Hospital

SANTA FE – For New Mexico’s survivors of the Bataan Death March, the end of over three years in prison camps didn’t come with the formal surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945.
It required many weeks for the prison camps to be identified, food and medical supplies to be dropped and transportation to be arranged.
Since before the A-bombs fell in early August, it was becoming obvious to members of the New Mexico National Guard that we were winning the war. Japanese guards were getting edgy, bombs were falling and U.S. Navy ships were shelling known factory sites.
The Japanese captors told our men that as soon as Americans landed, all prisoners would die. They had our men dig out large areas, where they were told they would be herded, shot an buried. Lt. Tom Foy, who became a longtime state lawmaker, reported that his camp was told it would be flooded with oil that ran the factories and then it would be set on fire.
But the big bombs changed many plans. Confusion reigned. As top Japanese officials fought over whether to surrender or fight on, orders were not getting out to the field. American special services teams were parachuted into prison camp areas to provide our men with directions about what to do to save themselves.
Navy reconnaissance planes scouted out prison camps. Prisoners made POW signs out of anything they could find. Because the inadequate food supplies provided by the Japanese had reduced to nothing, planes dropped food to the camps in huge containers and 55-gallon drums.
The cargo was too heavy for the parachutes, making the drops almost as dangerous as bombing raids. Prisoners ran into their barracks, but a 55-gallon drum of fruit cocktail would crash right through, injuring many. Sgt. Nick Chintis, who later was a lobbyist for Western New Mexico University, noted the irony of a man who had starved for three years being wiped out by a can of peaches.
Special services leaders instructed our men to stay put until their liberators arrived. But for many, it was too big a temptation to go foraging for food, medicine, strong drink or a quicker way home.
For many others, a slow boat back home was just what they wanted. They were emaciated. Many wanted the time to fatten up and recover from diseases and injuries before facing their friends and loved ones. And some were apprehensive about reconnecting with loved ones. Not all wives and sweethearts had waited.
After four years in isolation, it was a strange new world to which they returned. New customs, innovations and slang bewildered them. And even the familiar seemed new. They had to reacquaint themselves with their country and with their friends and families who could never understand.
After initial processing, the returning prisoners were sent to military hospitals nearest their homes. Most New Mexicans went to Bruns General Hospital in Santa Fe. The doctors gave most of them no more than 10 years to live and said they could never father children. Both prognoses proved false for most, but they accepted them at the time and vowed to enjoy life as long as they had it.
Santa Fe treated them well. Small, offbeat and sympathetic, it was an ideal place to recover. The community let them get away with anything. When they went into town and got too drunk, the police would give them rides back to the hospital.
Two men even stole a police car to go fishing. They finally called in to the chief and told him they were in Pecos. He just replied, “Please don’t wreck it and bring it back when you’re through.”
When they were ready to return to their communities, they received huge homecoming celebrations, even if they weren’t quite ready.
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Only a few Bataan survivors remain, but we will honor them throughout the year on significant days. If you want to get a jump on me, get a copy of Dorothy Cave’s book “Beyond Courage.” You’ll love it.