Claude Arthur Hatch was born on Oct. 21, 1912, in Fruitland, NM and lived throughout his life in the Four Corners region.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1941, and was serving in the Philippines with the 200th Coast Artillery Headquarters Battery 2nd Battalion. He was taken captive by invading Japanese forces in April 1942 when, out of food, medical supplies and ammunition, Brigadier General Edward P. King surrendered the combined American/Filipino forces on Bataan. In four months, the regiments were credited with shooting down 86 enemy aircraft.
Claude survived the Bataan Death March and went on to survive 1,032 days of captivity under torturous conditions. On the March, Hatch and another POW carried one of their comrades all day, only to find at the end of the day, he had died. He was moved through a number of detention camps until he was eventually returned to Claude was returned to Bilibid where he had been interned earlier and remained there until liberated by 37th Infantry Division troops on February 4, 1945.
As recalled by Claude's niece, Teresa Hatch, when a list of freed prisoners was broadcast on the radio, and with only two families in the area having telephones, people visited the family home all night to make sure his mother knew: "Your Claude is coming home."
In recognition of his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and numerous other military awards.
After the war, Claude worked as a trader at various trading posts of the Four Corners region and building and establishing new ones. He and two of his brothers took over his father's trading business in Fruitland where he settled. He and his wife Virginia raised three daughters, Myrtle Lelia, Rachel and Nora, and a son, Michael.
Claude was a tireless explorer and historian of the peoples of the Four Corners region and assisted in validating the existence of the Southern San Juan Piaute tribe.