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Remembering the sacrifice, Bataan Memorial Death March
(From left) Master Sgt. Brian Chris, 315th Training Squadron, Fundamentals Team Intelligence Officer Course section chief, 2nd Lieutenant Lindsay Krahn and 2nd Lieutenant Roman Lopez, both 315 TRS Intelligence Officer Course students, pose with their squadrons guideon, March 21, at the Bataan Memorial Death March, White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo )
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Remembering the sacrifice, Bataan Memorial Death March

Posted 4/6/2010   Updated 4/6/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Master Sgt. Brian Chris
315th Training Squadron


4/6/2010 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- In the cold early morning breeze of White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 21, a team of three 315th Training Squadron Rattlers participated in the 21st Annual Bataan Memorial Death March.

This year's event hosted more than 5,700, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Wounded Warriors and individuals from five other countries. While the Rattlers had fully functioning uniforms, combat boots and camelback hydration packs, the people they gathered to honor did not have such luxuries on the fateful day of April 9, 1942.

Outnumbered, fighting with outdated equipment, having virtually no air power and without a sign of resupply in sight, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were forced to surrender to Japanese forces while defending the malaria-infested islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines.

After capture, the Japanese forced them to march more than 65 miles in the scorching heat of the Philippine jungles for a week straight - a grueling ordeal during which thousands died. Those who stopped to take a break or to help an injured brother, were bayoneted by the Japanese forces. Eventually many faced hardships as Prisoners Of War. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting POWs to Japan were sunk by U.S. Air and Naval forces.

The first Bataan Memorial Death March took place in 1989, organized by the New Mexico State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment, to honor their fallen New Mexico National Guardsmen. The 26.2 mile course lies over paved roads, dirt trails, washes and the treacherous "Sand Pit." The course elevation varies between 4,100' to 5,300' as runners circle a small mountain known as Mineral Hill.

It was an honor carrying the 315 TRS guideon and representing Team Goodfellow in this year's live history lesson. I am also very proud of my lieutenants. Reuniting with the survivors and hearing their stories again really puts everything in perspective. I finished in 5 hours, 30 minutes, 9 seconds and placed 29th out of 378 men in the Military Male Light Division.

2nd Lieutenant Lindsay Krahn, 315 TRS, finished the course in 6:28:18 and placed 19th out of 93 women in the Military Female Light Division.

"The impact of seeing the survivors at the march made overcoming the physical and mental barriers that much more rewarding," the lieutenant added.

2nd Lieutenant Roman Lopez, 315 TRS, finished 1st out of 378 men in the Military Male Light Division with a time of 4:15:59 and went back for both of his teammates who were also participating.

"The Bataan Memorial Death March was the most challenging and rewarding marathon I have ever had the honor of running," the lieutenant added.

The next Bataan Memorial Death March is scheduled for March 27, 2011. For more information visit www.bataanmarch.com or call (325)- 654-4034.



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