Story and photo by Sgt. Liane Hatch
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Hundreds of Soldiers, including many from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, honored World War II Soldiers from the historic Bataan Death March by participating in a memorial ruck marathon at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, March 10, 2019.
The Camp Buehring Morale, Welfare and Recreation office hosted the memorial ruck as a smaller version of one that takes place annually in White Sands, New Mexico. Participants ruck marched 26.2 miles in uniform, carrying rucksacks weighing at least 35 pounds.
Participation was voluntary, but despite their very recent arrival — and with one Soldier who arrived just two days prior — many Soldiers stepped up to challenge themselves and to honor historic veterans.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, and here’s a great opportunity to give it a shot,” said 2nd Lt. Phoenix Jones with 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd ABCT.
While Soldiers considered simply finishing an accomplishment, some went out with specific goals in mind, and it paid off.
Sgt. Dennis Albaugh with 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd ABCT, finished third overall and first in the age group for 40-49-year-olds, with a time of 5 hours and 56 minutes.
Not too far behind him was Sgt. Wesley Langskov and Spc. Tristen Smith, both with 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd ABCT, who came in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Neither had ever completed a marathon before, but both said it felt great to finish.
“I didn’t know too much about (the Bataan Death March) before, and then I watched a documentary last night about it,” said Smith. “I had no idea, so it was really cool to learn what it was all about and then be able to come out here and do this.”
The annual memorial event, which originated in New Mexico in 1989, honors the legacy and sacrifice of the American Soldiers who endured what is now known as “The Bataan Death March.” After seven months of fighting the Japanese in the Bataan region of the Philippines, U.S. and Filipino forces surrendered and, as prisoners of war, were forced to march 65 miles to confinement camps throughout the island. Approximately 10,000 men died during the march: 1,000 U.S. forces and 9,000 Filipino. Of those who made it to the camps and were later freed in 1945, approximately one-third died as the result of health complications after their release.