Bataan Memorial Death March

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What is it?

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a marathon-length race through the high desert, mountainous terrain of the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico. This march pays tribute to 60,000 to 80,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war (POWs) who surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army, April 9, 1942. The POWs included 1,800 members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard, of which only half survived the hardships of marching in scorching heat with little to no food.

The annual march is a living history lesson to participants from around the globe who pay tribute to the deceased and the small group of surviving Bataan veterans attending the march.

What has the Army done?

The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) detachment at New Mexico State University first sponsored the memorial march in 1989. The march began with 100 participants and quickly grew, resulting in the Army partnering with the ROTC detachment in order to move the march onto WSMR in 1992. The move allowed for the march to increase the number of participants to 7,000. This U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) event is possible because of 1,200 community volunteers who work the race annually.

Bataan Memorial Death March is considered as one of the hardest marathon-length routes in the United States. Participants come from all over the world to honor the Bataan fallen heroes and World War II survivors.

What continued efforts are planned for the future?

WSMR hosts the annual march to educate today’s generations about those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Bataan Memorial Death march will continue to grow and improve with new running technologies and programs.

Why is it important to the Army?

The Bataan Memorial Death March honors all fallen veterans for their service and sacrifice. Service members and civilians from around the world train for months, and military teams use the memorial event to foster esprit de corps in their unit. The march has also become popular among wounded warriors who set the march as a goal to their rehabilitation journey.

Resources:

FMWR Bataan Memorial Death March on social media:

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