Rangers participate in the 20th annual Bataan Memorial Death March
Rangers from the Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, participate in the 20th annual Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, N.M., March 29. Pictured from left to right are SFC Aaron Todd-Lancaster, SFC Verle Smith, MSG Roy Young, SSG Bill Gallant, and SSG Ryan Pauly.

Five Rangers from Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, participated in the 20th annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands, N.M., March 29.

The environment: 55 mile an hour winds, temperatures in the mid 70s; the desert (and its creatures); 26.2 miles; and 5,300 participants.

"The men who were forced to march what is now known as the Bataan Death March had conditions that were much, much worse than this," said SSG Bill Gallant, with the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The Bataan Memorial Death March honors World War II heroes who were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines.

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 They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.

They 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.

"Marching in this event is an honor and a privilege to pay tribute to the veterans of the march, to remember our fallen comrades and to represent our Ranger Regiment," Gallant said.

The Ranger lineage leads straight to the men who rescued the survivors at Cabanatuan. The 6th Ranger Battalion rescued the 511 prisoners of war who still remained at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp January 1945 after the 1942 Bataan Death March.

"This march is also a way for us to honor the men from 6th Ranger Battalion's heroic rescue of the survivors of the march," Gallant said. "And the best way to do this is to lead from the front."

The team came in first place in the Military Male Heavy Team Class with an overall time of five hours and 42 minutes.

"Luckily, we were allowed to use iPods; the music gave us the motivation to keep moving," Gallant said. "The modified uniforms were a must in the desert environment."

A number of veterans from the original march were in attendance.

"It was an honor to shake hands with the survivors of the actual march," Gallant said.

For more information on next year's Bataan Memorial Death March, go to http://www.bataanmarch.com.

Page last updated Fri April 17th, 2009 at 11:27