Registration has opened for the 24th annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., on Sunday, March 17.
This is an opportunity to not only run (or walk) 15 or 26 miles in the desert, but also to meet the dwindling pool of survivors from the original Death March, a forced 80-mile trek of 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American prisoners of war in April 1942.
Between 2,500 and 10,000 Filipino and between 350-650 American POWs died on that march, with the remainder left to fester in camps in near starvation conditions until the end of World War II.
The Death March had a huge impact on New Mexico, which had deployed 1,800 National Guard troops to the Philippines before the start of the war, with many communities in the sparsely populated state affected – the reason the commemorative march is held at the missile range, located off the Bataan Memorial Highway.
Next year will mark my fifth memorial march. I view the event as a celebration of life accomplished by putting one foot after the other, hour after hour, with handshakes at the finish line from the survivors of the original march.Please join me and a field of 4,500 other marchers from around the world. I’ll be the guy with the ground speed of a turtle.