Friday, April 1, 2011

Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon, 3/27/2011 Part 1, The Trip

This race has been on my “To Do” list for a long time. It finally worked out this year because a couple of friends who I could share a hotel room with were also going.
The purpose of this event is to honor and remember what Filipino and American soldiers endured when they were surrendered to the Japanese in 1942. They were forcibly marched 60 miles (97 kilometers) with little or no food and or water and those to weak to continue the march were run over by trucks, bayoneted or shot to death. Their cry:
We’re the battling bastards of Bataan.
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces
And nobody gives a damn.
Here is a link to an article from the Las Cruces Sun News that gives a more complete account of the atrocities that occurred:

Day 1, March 25, 2011
Initially, I was going to drive out to Las Cruces by myself, but it turned out that my daughter Emily came along for the trip. She slept most of the way, but at least I wasn’t by alone. We made it to San Antonio for morning rush hour which was rather unpleasant, but things got easy as we made it farther west. Once you pass through Kerrville Texas headed west, the speed limit is 80 mph! Of course there are many people who would stretch that limit. I am not one to do that because there are Sherriff’s department vehicles and Texas state troopers all over the place out there.

The closer we got to El Paso, the more police we saw. The Border Patrol was also extremely active… I wonder if it was because it was Friday. Maybe the drug smugglers are more active on the weekends. We made our way to our hotel, a La Quinta on the west side of El Paso, got checked in and found a place to eat dinner. Then it was time to drive out to White Sands Missile Range for in processing. As I was driving out to the base from Las Cruces, I started to wonder what the hell I have gotten myself into. The terrain out there is very unforgiving, high desert surrounded by mountains, one of which we were going to have to climb. I called my mom and told here it was a good thing my life insurance was paid up. LOL

The base security is very strict, but we had all our documents in order so were allowed to enter. We proceeded on to drive right past the turn off the main road, missing the sign for Bataan In Processing completely. We turned around and saw the sign for “Tank Crossing”. Oh my.

Emily had to wait for me in the lobby and I went through the line to pick up race materials for Deb, Mellody and I. I think I had a lucky number: 3030. It seemed lucky at the time anyway. The next stop was getting our finishing certificates printed. They are really nice! I was very fortunate to have the time to speak to 3 of the survivors from the original Bataan Death March and they were very gracious, autographing everyone’s certificates. It was an honor to meet them and to be able to thank them for their service to our country. The next stop was to pick up our t-shirts. I did not spend much time looking at souvenirs because Deb, Mellody and I were planning to come back to the base on Saturday.

Bataan Death March Survivors

Emily and I walked out and drove up to the Missile Museum which is close to the exit. There are numerous missile systems on display, and they encourage photographs. We were able to get some nice pictures, even though the wind was really gusty!

Then it was time to drive back to El Paso for a good night’s sleep.

More to come...

No comments:

Post a Comment