By Cpl. Jordan Johnson, Third Army/ARCENT Public AffairsMarch 5, 2012
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (March 5, 2012) -- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation center workers organized a 12.5 mile Bataan Memorial Death March here March 1.
The MWR staff spent weeks planning the event, which honored American and Filipino prisoners of war who were forced to march 80 miles while being tortured, abused or killed.
"The march took me about a month to put together," said Sandra Yount, fitness center lead.
Before the participants tested their physical and mental endurance with the death march, organizers ensured the length of the course, said Yount.
"We measured the route by walking and driving," explained Yount. "We made sure we had the correct measurement, the correct miles, for the whole thing."
Since the march led participants across several busy roads, military police and road guards were needed to control traffic. In addition, several other organizations helped facilitate the memorial.
"We had participation from the provost marshal office, emergency medical services and the fire department," Yount said. "We also had a total of five medics on the route riding bikes, making sure everybody was safe on the road."
With plenty of medical personnel available, many Soldiers gave it their all to finish as fast as possible.
"I started running and I didn't stop," said Maj. Max Self, liaison officer, program executive office, intelligence electronic warfare and sensors. "I do a lot of distance running anyway, so I just rested up for it."
Self was the first participant to cross the finish line, with a time of two hours, nine minutes and 49 seconds. The additional weight of his ruck-sack didn't hinder him too much, Self said.
"I'm a pretty big guy, so percentage wise, adding 35 pounds wasn't a big difference," said Self.
Thanks to the coordination efforts by the personnel at MWR, participants spoke highly of the trail.
"It was a good course," Self said. "The course was a good mix of dirt and pavement. I had a good time. I appreciate everyone putting it together."
As the main organizer, Yount enjoyed learning about the history of the Bataan Death March and was happy with everyone who showed up, she said.
"This has been amazing for me. It's been a learning experience," Yount said. "I'm proud of everyone who participated to remember all the people who died and all the suffering they went through."