More than 4,000 participated in the 18th Bataan Memorial Death March
held in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on March 25,2007


 

Background   (from its official website http://www.bataanmarch.com)

The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a special group of World War II heroes. These brave soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. 

The conditions they encountered and the aftermath of the battle were unique. They fought in a malaria-infested region, surviving on half or quarter rations with little or no medical help. They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.     

On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.
 
                                                                                                   
     2007 official poster

They were marched for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.
 

Memorial March began in 1989

The Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University began sponsoring the memorial march in 1989 to mark a page in history that included so many native sons and affected many families in the state.  In 1992, White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard joined in the sponsorship and the event was moved to the missile range.  

In 2003, for the only time in its history, the memorial march was canceled.  Operation Iraqi Free required extensive deployment among the units that usually support the march and event could not be safely and efficiently conducted.

Since its inception, the memorial march has grown from about 100 to some 4,000 marchers from across the United States and several foreign countries. While still primarily a military event, many civilians choose to take the challenge.

Marchers come to this memorial event for many reasons personal challenge, the spirit of competition or to foster esprit de corps in their unit. Some march in honor of a family member or a particular veteran who was in the Bataan Death March or was taken a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.
 

Message from Col. Gerald Schurtz, US Amy (Ret.)   Video Clip

Col. Schurtz's father, Major Paul W. Schurtz, survived the Bataan Death March but died on Hellship, Oryoku Maru, in December of 1944.

He is one of the organizers of the Bataan Memorial Death March.




 

                        Marchers shake hands with Bataan Death March survivor Robert Brown before predawn start

Meeting the original March's survivors was a very humbling experience.  They truly are awe-inspiring men.  Standing before them, I really did not know how to thank them for their sacrifices, and for their courage in facing a merciless enemy.  While I was shaking the hands of the survivors at the start/finish line, one of them looked at me and simply said "Thank You for being here".  I have no words to express the emotion I felt at that moment.  I will remember that for the rest of my life.                             
                                -- remarks by a past participant (from the official website)
 

             
   79 Iraq War wounded soldiers participated                  more than 1,000 civilians participated


                             
                     Many participants said,  "This is nothing compared to what POWs had to endure."

 

Sons run to honor POW fathers
                        

                                  
              Mr. W. M. Overmier and his son Allan                       Mr. Abel F. Ortega and his son Abel Jr. 
    
 

Mr. Overmier's message
video clip

 

Award Ceremony

     
                              Former POWs of the Japanese at the award ceremony