7,200 attend Bataan Memorial Death March

More than 7,000 commemorated the 75th anniversary of Bataan Death March

More than 7,200 people participated in the 28th annual Bataan Memorial Death March on Sunday at White Sands Missile Range.

This year, people commemorated the 75th anniversary of Bataan Death March which was the wartime atrocity where Japanese captors forced American and Filipino service members to march more than 60 miles through the jungle with no food and little water. 

Thousands of people died during the march including hundreds of Americans.

Some marchers were executed by the Japanese while others died from illness.

Sunday’s event commemorated their sacrifice while marking the largest turnout in the vent’s history, according to organizers.

Participating in the 28th annual Bataan Memorial Death March were eight survivors including Ret. U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon.

Skardon was the only survivor who marched in the real Bataan Death March and in Sunday’s event.

Meanwhile, seven other survivors attended the event and cheered on participants.

CSM William Wofford told NewsChannel 9, “We have eight survivors left. Unfortunatley, they’re all in their 90’s. We don’t know how much longer they’re going to be around and this whole day is about them.”

Wofford added, “It’s monumental. Just to have someone come out here to dwell on it and give back.”

Skardon and his group of supporters, called Ben’s Brigade, walked about 9 miles of the course.

He told NewsChannel 9, “It’s like no other place in the world: freedom, air and friendly faces everywhere. You can’t beat that.”

When asked what the record high turnout means to him, Skardon said, “It means there’s a hell of a lot of people out here today.”

In addition to the participants, organizers said there were approximately 2,000 volunteers.

They also said that registration for Sunday’s event closed a week earlier than usual and attribute the turnout to it being the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March which took place in April 1942.

 


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