The story really starts on November 22, 2011. My mom, Mary, had seizures and was diagnosed with a very large brain tumor. It was removed on December 5th and was benign. However, spending most of 6 or 8 weeks in Lubbock with her in the hospital meant I wasn't training for Bataan. It did allow my hip to heal up from the Duke City Marathon and when we all came home I started training for the Memorial March which is the shorter 14.2 mile portion of Bataan.
I ran again this year in Memory of Lt. Col. Arden Boellner. Lt. Col. Boellner served in the Philippines, was surrendered to the Japanese, imprisoned in horrible POW camps for 3.5 years, and finally was killed on a Japanese Hellship (these were ships the Japanese transported POWs, but did not paint a red cross on, and were sadly bombed by American planes). His granddaughter, Jody Alpers and husband Greg, were also walking the Memorial March. My friend, Laura volunteered to run with me.
In addition to Lt. Col. Boellner, I carried the following names of New Mexicans on a note and in my heart:
- Tom Foy, Bataan survivor, passed away in 2011. He went to school with my employer's father and was a lifelong friend of the Jennings.
- Jose Gonzales, survived Bataan, but died on a Hellship. He was my friend, Erlinda's uncle.
- Telesfore & Jose Cordova, brothers who died in the March. They were my friend, Erlinda's uncles.
- Alton Tice, Bataan survivor. He was my friend, Peggy's Uncle.
- Bill Blue, Bataan survivor. Alton's friend.
As it is every year, it was a record crowd with over 6700 marchers including 30 Wounded Warriors!
The Bataan Survivors in attendance were:
Here are the pictures (some were from my parents camera - that's why you will see different angles):
- Sam Juan Antonio
- Julio Barela
- Harold Bergbower
- Valdemar de Herrera
- William Eldridge
- Glenn Frazier
- Oscar Leonard
- John Mims
- Bill Overmier
- Milton "Pete" Pearce
- Dianicio Perez
- Leonard Robinson
- Ben Skardon (Mr. Skardon walked the first 8 miles for the fifth year! At 94 years old!!)
- Eugene Schmitz
- Henry "Grady" Stanley
- Richard Trask
Laura & I
Black Daggers Parachute Team
Wounded Warriors go first
Shaking hands with the survivors
Mr. John Mims - I love this man! He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said "Love ya, do good!"
True heroes of different generations (photo credit army.mil)
My Mom on hand to cheer!
The area had several small snows this winter and the desert was covered with yellow wildflowers. It made for a very pretty day.
Laura & I finished in 2:56!
Jody & Greg finishing
Greg, Marty, & Jody
Marty was so proud of her baby sister! I'm sure their granddaddy was just as proud!
I do plan on doing this march every year. It has so much meaning for me! This quote was in an article I read about the March. I think these are true words to live by. As you talk to the remaining survivors, they have all forgiven the Japanese (something I have a hard time with).
"I told my family what happen to me as a prisoner of war from the first day I got home, said Leonard Robinson, 93, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, who traveled from Casper, Wyo., to attend.
"I want people to take away three things from my experience: first, you need to talk about it; second, have faith in God; and third, never hold a grudge; the things we go through in life are not worth holding on to and complaining - just live."
And a final picture that you just don't see in any other race:
Until next year....