SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, –
Four members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Army Forces Battalion (ARFOR) in Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, completed the Bataan Memorial Death March on Sunday March 23, 2014 in the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a group of World War II heroes, who defended the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines in 1942. After being captured by the Japanese forces, these Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Marines, and National Guard heroes, survived on half or quarter rations and outdated equipment during the 80 mile march.
The soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. The conditions they battled with and the aftermath of it were an ordeal. They fought in a malaria-infested region, surviving with barely enough food for everyone and with little or no medical help. These brave soldiers fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.
The 26.2 mile march was completed by U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Thinh Huynh, ARFOR command sergeant major, U.S. Army Capt. Bradley Brueggemann, an ARFOR assistant operations officer, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Spencer Hampton, a future operations planner, and U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Floyd, the orderly room non-commissioned-officer-in-charge. The four service members answered a U.S. Army South call for volunteers to participate in the march.
With only four weeks to prepare for the march, they all trained on a daily basis, but Huynh and Floyd decided to run and ruck around the base perimeter whereas Hampton and Brueggemann preferred to gain endurance by running.
More than 6,200 people from around the world participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March. The 26.2 grueling miles course was "unforgiving," said Hampton. "Many wounded warriors participated, there was a man with below the knee double amputee doing the 26 miles," said Huynh. "Seeing him motivated me to push harder."
Before the race started, the participants had the opportunity to meet some of the Bataan Death March survivors. "It was a humbling experience and it encouraged us to finish strong" said Floyd.
Huynh, Hampton, and Floyd carried more than 50 pounds in food donations throughout their ruck march and completed the grueling 26.2 miles in seven hours. Brueggemann ran for more than 13 miles without a ruck and finished the marathon in five hours.
The four ARFOR participants agreed that the Bataan Death March is an honorable cause, "a rewarding and very humbling experience."