Private First Class
11th Armored Division, 63rd Infantry Battalion, Company A
Before the War
On March 20, 1921, Joaquin Madril was born to Pablo and Agustina Madril at their stone ranchita (little ranch) in Duran, a small Spanish farming and ranching community in south central New Mexico. He had two brothers, Guadalupe and Manuel (adopted), and four sisters Isabel, Dolores, Beatrice and Lola (adopted).
Madril and his siblings received the sacraments at John the Baptist Catholic Church in Duran. When they were young, the children attended the local grammar school. During the summers, they joined cousins and friends around the campfire sharing stories, playing music, dancing, and telling jokes. Madril’s siblings remembered him as a happy boy and a jokester.
The family embodied the humble traditions of the local Hispano culture and rural lifestyle, with very little, but rich in love and faith. When he was older, Madril joined the Sociedade de San José, an organization comprised of men in the church who served as leaders and provided support to the local community.
The town of Duran developed along the El Paso & Northeastern Railroad Arrow Route. After completing the eighth grade, Madril joined the other men in the community working as a track laborer for the Southern Pacific Railway Company out of Carrizozo, New Mexico.
Madril met and married Andrea Sena on October 30, 1940. The couple was always seen holding hands. The couple welcomed two sons, Joaquin (Jake) in October 1941, and Cypriano (or Pippin) in December 1942. Madril enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 14, 1942.
Private First Class Madril stood 5’10” and weighed 147 pounds when he began his intensive training with the 11th Armored Division, 63rd Infantry Battalion, Company A, at Camp Polk, Louisiana. Here the men participated in wide-scale tactical maneuver training, learning to move effectively through forests, over rivers and across open fields. The 63rd Infantry Battalion later joined the Third Army at Camp Barkeley, Texas, for a short stint where they participated in small arms training and more maneuvers.
Andrea Madril joined her husband in Texas for a while, but had to return home when the 11th Armored Division moved to California in October 1943. The following spring, the 63rd Infantry Battalion participated in a “War Bond Drive,” where they displayed modern warfare maneuvers in front of crowds in San Diego and Santa Barbara, California.
Madril shipped out with the 63rd Infantry Battalion and arrived in England on October 10, 1944. Two months later, Madril arrived in Cherbourg, France, just as the Germans launched their final offensive 350 miles to the east in the Ardennes Forest. The 11th Armored Division covered almost 90 miles per day for four days, earning the nickname the Thunderbolts.
Road conditions made travel difficult as Private Madril and Company A arrived on the outskirts of what would be known as the Battle of the Bulge. On December 30, they encountered extensive enemy fire as they approached Rechrival, Belgium. Capturing the town was critical to the success of the mission. In the early morning hours of December 31, 1944, Private Madril was fatally shot.
Many years later, his son Jake received information from one of the men with whom his father had served during the war. In the letter, Madril’s son learned new details about his father’s death, but the name and contact information was lost years ago. While the exact circumstances remained unclear, his son was told that his father was hit while walking behind a half track. Private First Class Madril was killed in action at Rechrival. The Sociedade de San José medalla (medal) he carried in his pocket was damaged, and the family believes the damage was sustained in battle.
On January 8, 1945, Private Madril’s young wife Andrea received a letter informing her of his death. The family was devastated by the loss and struggled to understand how a war a world away had taken the life of the man they loved so much. His sons, aged two and three, would only know their father through the memories of their mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Madril was temporarily interred Grand Failly, France. When Andrea Madril remarried, Pablo was faced with the difficult decision about his son’s final resting place. He was a very spiritual man, who feared his son’s remains would be lost or that his soul would be unsettled by the transatlantic journey. On February 7, 1949, Madril was laid to rest at Luxembourg American Cemetery, Plot H, Row 16, Grave 60 and was awarded the Purple Heart.
Pablo Madril wrote a corrido and versos dedicated to the memory of his son. In them he recounts Madril’s service and death. He pleads for fathers and families to pray for world peace daily in the final stanza, “A los Padres de familia, Yo les pido su atención, Pidan por la paz del mundo, En su diaria Oración.” Both of his sons honored their father’s memory through their military service. His legacy continues through the lives of his sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at home in New Mexico who cherish the Purple Heart that represents his bravery.
11th Armored Division; World War II Operations Reports, 1941-1948, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Record Group 407 (Boxes 13027); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
11th Armored Division; World War II Operations Reports, 1941-1948, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Record Group 407 (Boxes 13067); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
11th Armored Division Legacy Group. 11th Armored Division Legacy Group. Accessed June 21, 2019. http://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/i_ourhistory.html.
Cole, Hugh M. United States Army in World War II European Theater of Operations The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Washington D.C.: Office Of The Chief Of Military History Department Of The Army, 1993. https://history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-8-1/CMH_Pub_7-8-1.pdf.
House, J.M. "The Last Hanging Crime: Duran, NM." City of Dust (blog). Entry posted August 28, 2013. Accessed November 15, 2018. http://cityofdust.blogspot.com/2013/08/ the-last-hanging-crime-duran-new-mexico.html.
“Joaquin Madril.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed October 3, 2018. https://www.abmc.gov/node/431269#.XARfkBNKg1.
Joaquin Madril, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.
Joaquin Madril, VA Master Index Card and Battle Casualty Report, Department of the Army. National Archives and Records Administration – St. Louis.
Joaquin G. Madril to Amy Page. Email Correspondence. November 3, 2018 - November 18, 2018.
Luna, Stella. Telephone interview by author. February 4, 2019.
Madril Family Photographs 1920-1945. Courtesy of Joaquin G. Madril.
Madril, Joaquin G., Personal collection of documents and memorabilia related to the life, service record, and death of Joaquin Madril.
Madril, Joaquin G. Telephone interview with the author. November 4, 2018.
Madril, Joaquin G., Telephone interview with the author. November 13, 2018.
Madril, Joaquin G. Text message correspondence with the author. November 3, 2018 - January 6, 2019.
Madril, Pablo, Corrido en Memoria De Joaquin Madril. Transcribed by Joaquin G. Madril.
Madril, Pablo, Versos De Joaquin Madril Cuando Se Fue Al Army. Transcribed by Joaquin G. Madril, n.d.
New Mexico. Torrance County. 1930 U.S. Census. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.
Records for Joaquin Madril; World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [Electronic File], Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD [retrieved from the Access to Archival Databases at https://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-description.jsp?s=3360&cat=WR26&bc=,sl, October 13, 2018.
Steward, Hal D., Charles S. Kilburn, Hill Blacklock. ThunderBolt: The History of the Eleventh Armored Division. Washington, D.C.: 11th Armored Division Association, 1948. https://archive.org/details/Thunderbolt11th/page/n9.
Vistas. "Bigger than one man's vision." Roswell Daily Record. Updated August 5, 2018. Accessed November 25, 2018. https://www.rdrnews.com/author/vistas/.
Williams, Hugh, J.M. Luna, and Benificio Montoya. Railroad Map Of the State of New Mexico. Map. Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico State Corporation Commission, 1924. 1959-296; Map Collection, Original Materials, New Mexico. New Mexico State Archives, Santa Fe.