Imagine running 26.2 miles through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range in military boots, carrying a backpack filled with at least 35 pounds, and wearing a pistol belt, suspenders and a hydration pack filled with a quart of water. Those were the demanding conditions faced by many participants in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March.
Medical Task Force – 6 (EMTF-6). The task force joined other region’s teams in support of the event March 19-20, 2016. Several physicians along with dozens of paramedics and nurses treated nearly 500 patients in a giant mobile hospital system deployed for this challenging full marathon. The race goes on all day, with the slowest marchers taking over 12 hours to complete the course.
Held annually since 1990 in New Mexico, the Bataan Memorial Death March is conducted in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health and, in many cases, their lives. Since its inception, the memorial march has grown from about 100 to some 6,500 marchers from across the United States and several foreign countries.
While still primarily a military event, many civilians chose to take the challenge. Some of the participants march in honor of a family member or a veteran who was in the Bataan Death March or was taken a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.