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Bataan March Survivor Elias Saavedra Dies At 96

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — One of the last survivors of the Bataan Death March has died.

Elias Saavedra died Wednesday at his San Rafael, New Mexico, home. He was 96.

His son Alfred Saavedra says his father died of natural causes.

Saavedra was born in 1918 and joined the New Mexico National Guard. He was one of 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers taken captive by the Japanese in World War II when U.S. forces surrendered in the province of Bataan and Corregidor Island in April 1942.

Tens of thousands of the troops were forced to march to Japanese prison camps in what became known as the Bataan Death March. Many were denied food, water and medical care.

After the war, Saavedra returned to New Mexico where he operated a service station in San Rafael.

Last month, CBS 11 News spoke with Charles Dragich — a North Texan who also survived the infamous Bataan Death March. It took until 2008 for Dragich to be recognized for his commitment, determination and heroism. He is now 97-years-old.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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