Irwin Army Community Hospital excels at Bataan Memorial Death March
Irwin Army Community Hospital's Civilian Coed Heavy Team finished in first place in their category at the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 21. Team members included Capt. Nicole Protz, Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Lieswald, Spc. Todd Holladay, Gary Bacon, Pfc. Alexander Xayavong.

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Two teams represented Irwin Army Community Hospital at the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 21.

"It's something I love to participate in every year because it's an opportunity for us to show an appreciation to other individuals who have sacrificed for their country," said Maj. Rachel Wienke, IACH personnel chief.

The Bataan Memorial Death March is conducted in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. In many cases, Soldiers sacrificed their freedom, health and lives in the march.

"(IACH teams) went the day before to visit the monument to reinforce what we were doing it for," said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Lieswald, Warrior Transition Battalion.

The full 26.2-mile march, also known as the green route, allows participants "to experience, in part, what Soldiers endured during their long-forced trek through the Philippines," according to the Bataan Memorial Death March Web site.

The course crosses dusty and hilly desert terrain, circles a small mountain and travels through sandy desert trails and washes.

"Participants in the heavy divisions must carry rucksacks or packs weighing at least 35 pounds, plus food and water," Wienke said.

All five team members must cross the finish line together.

This year's IACH's Civilian Coed Heavy Team members were Capt. Nicole Protz, Lieswald, Gary Bacon, Spc. Todd Holladay and Pfc. Alexander Xayavong.

IACH's Civilian Coed Heavy Team was named as the second place winners in their category, with a time of eight hours and 37 minutes.

IACH's Military Coed Heavy Team, including Wienke, Capt. Brian Stoltenberg, Staff Sgt. Michael Mooe, Sgt. Nicholas Rau and Spc. Steven Phillips, finished sixth in their division, with a time of seven hours and 20 minutes.

They shaved 49 minutes from last year's time by including "more training where we were pushing the pace through rough terrain and rocky trail like we would experience at the actual march," Wienke said.

Capt. Brandon Bear, WTB, also completed the march with the Military Coed Heavy Team, although he was registered as an individual.

"I'm already thinking about next year. I encourage everyone that is able to participate," Lieswald said.

For additional information about the Bataan Memorial Death March, visit http://www.bataanmarch.com/default.htm.

Page last updated Thu April 1st, 2010 at 15:27