Marching with 50-pound ruck sacks through sand and hills, an all-female team of five Soldiers from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, took part in the 26.2-mile Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, March 25.
Team members were Capt. Alyssa Crandall and 1st Lt. McKenzie Hudgins from 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st CAB; 1st Lt. Marybethe Vosburgh from Company E, 1st Heavy Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st CAB; and 1st Lt. Stephanie Preekett and 1st Lt. Brittany Dannewitz from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st CAB.
"It was an awesome event; a humbling experience that is once in a lifetime," Dannewitz said. "This event was physically demanding (during the event) but one that you were encouraged along the route from teammates, volunteers and others on the course cheering one another on being one team one fight in honor and remembrance."
The annual memorial march began in 1989 and honors the 75,000 U.S. and Filipino World War II Soldiers who surrendered to Japanese forces on April 9, 1942, according to the White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office. About 1,000 Americans and 9,000 Filipinos subsequently died as they were marched 65 miles through scorching jungles to prisoner-of-war camps. The survivors wouldn't be freed until 1945 when joint U.S.-Filipino forces recaptured the Philippines.
"I was very honored to participate as a member of the 1st CAB team," Hudgins said. "It was very memorable experience to complete a competition that was much a testament of mental endurance as it was physical endurance."
The team contributes the successful completion of this event in part to the training that they did prior.
"However, the majority of my pride and sense of accomplishment stems from the tight-knit bonds made with my four teammates during training and the march itself," Hudgins said.