Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bataan Memorial Death March - 2014

Every year for the past 15 or so years, Chapter IX along with Chapter VXXX of Las Cruces, New Mexico supports the Bataan Memorial Death March, which is an event honoring a special group of World War II heroes. Chapter IX hosted a get together and dinner before and after the event for a group of Wounded Warriors, many of them with prosthetic legs, as well as a group of West Point Cadets who also competed or participated in this Memorial March.

American service members for whom the Bataan Memorial Death March honors are the brave soldiers who were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. The conditions they encountered before and during the battle against the invading Japanese were unique to sat the least.  They fought in an 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 They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.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.

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.

This memorial march, now going into it's 26th year honors the bravery and sacrifice of these  American fighting men.

For more information on the Bataan Memorial Death March.  The march itself offers a 41.2 and 26.2 mile course.  The terrain poses a major challenge with elevations rising from 1,225 meters Above Sea Level to 1,850 meters above sea level transiting hard packed roads to deep sand trails.     

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