More than 4,000 participated in the 18th Bataan Memorial Death
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 They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.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
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
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
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
Sons run to honor POW fathers