WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. – On March 17, 2019, seven members of the Albuquerque District participated in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March, a 26.2 mile trek to honor Veterans of World War II.
The annual event commemorates the heroic service members who defended the Philippines in 1942, during World War II. After the three-month Battle of Bataan, U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war were forcibly marched 65 miles under severe conditions with casualties numbering in the thousands.
This year marked the 30th Bataan Memorial Death March, and with over 8,600 participants, it was the largest showing for the event to date. Four surviving veterans of the 1942 Bataan Death March attended the event.
Preparing since early January, the District team hiked nearly 55 miles in the weeks leading up to the march. While training and proper equipment were key, determination and sheer effort were essential to finishing the grueling hike. The marathon course progressed from the main post of the missile range along paved and unpaved routes, up and around Mineral Hill trail with an increase of 1,300 feet in elevation, through the aptly named ‘sand pit,’ and back into the WSMR Garrison finish line. Marchers could enter into the ‘light’ or ‘heavy’ division under the ‘military’ or ‘civilian’ categories. The District team competed with the ‘civilian-heavy’ group, completing the event with 35-lbs ruck sacks.
“The event was an intense test of mental and physical endurance,” said facility design student trainee, Adam Baros. “But seeing the Wounded Warriors persevering through the difficult course was a great inspiration.”
After nine hours of marching through the high desert of southern New Mexico, the SPA squad crossed the finish line as a team completing the challenging and memorable endeavor.
[Editor’s note: the District team placed 7th in the Team Civilian Male Heavy division.]