479th FA Soldiers compete in Bataan Memorial Death March
March 26, 2013
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- The Bataan Memorial Death March takes place here every year in mid-March. The competition is a challenging 26.2-mile trek through arid desert terrain that boasts a daunting 400 meter increase in elevation.
The memorial march is conducted to commemorate the horrific 80-mile forced march that more than 60,000 heroic American and Filipino POWs endured during the Philippine Campaigns of World War II.
The 3rd Battalion, 393rd Field Artillery Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, participated in the 24th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March by sending six warriors to compete.
A five-man team consisting of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Thorne, Sgt. 1st Class David Hickman, Sgt. 1st Class Aniruj Alfred, Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Gonzalez and Staff Sgt. Trent Armstrong competed in the Military Male Light category and came in third place in that category, as well as ninth out of all 47 teams that competed.
In the Over-40 Military Light category, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Dellosa finished 134th out of 300.
Thorne led the team during the grueling two-month train-up and culminating race.
To prepare for the Death March, the Soldiers trained six days a week, regardless of weather or holidays, at Dana Peak Park on Stillhouse Hollow Lake. The difficult terrain in the park includes significant elevation changes, as well as unsteady ground, which prepared the Soldiers for some of the obstacles they would have to overcome to complete the race.
"Looking back, the only way we could have prepared better for the marathon was to find a location that has miles of loose sand," said Thorne.
During the train-up, the team covered more than 230 miles, the equivalent of walking to the Oklahoma border from Fort Hood.
The Soldiers who participated in the event paid for the registration fees and travel with money from their own pockets and donations from within the battalion.
After completing the march, the Soldiers were honored to meet two survivors of the Bataan Death March: Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower and Sgt. Oscar Leonard.
"It is a humbling experience to be in the presence of great men who endured so much and survived," said Armstrong.