USAMRDC Honors Fallen Soldiers during Memorial March
The Bataan Memorial Death March was hosted by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, for the first time in event history on April 17. The 32nd annual march was hosted virtually this year and invited individuals and organizations around the country to participate.
The memorial march is held each year to remember the tens-of-thousands of American and Filipino Soldiers who — as prisoners of war — were forced to march more than 60 miles through the sweltering Philippine jungles by Japanese forces on April 9, 1942. Many of those Soldiers lost their lives, those who survived faced continued hardships as prisoners of war.
"We are out here to honor those who fell ... think about that as you're marching," said USAMRDC Command Sergeant Major Victor Laragione to those in attendance at the event.
The Bataan Memorial Death March tests the mental and physical abilities of its participants via a challenging march. This year, individuals were given the option to participate in either a 14.2 mile march or a 26.2 mile march on Fort Detrick.
"It's an honor to serve, and it's an honor to wear this uniform," said Brig. Gen. Michael J. Talley, commanding general of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, as he spoke to the participants during his opening remarks. "I'm proud to march with you today."
USAMRDC's Operations Sgt. Maj. Mario Wible, who previously participated in a 13.1 mile Bataan Death March qualifier at Camp Casey, Korea, in 2002, said he prepared for the march by building up his endurance, getting a substantial amount of rest and staying hydrated. Wible also made sure to point out the superior job done by the organizers.
Maj. James Pak, event officer in command and military deputy at USAMRDC's Enterprise Information Technology Project Management Office, along with 1st Sgt. Todd Brenecki of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, served as the event organizers. Other participating entities included the Fort Detrick Department of Public Works; the Provost Marshal Office; the Commissary; the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program and the Odom Fitness Center.
In total, 41 Soldiers participated in the event, with 27 completing the longer march and 13 completing the shorter version.
Brenecki said that he and his team are looking forward to hosting this event again next year. A recognition ceremony will be held at a later date.
For more information about the Bataan Death March, visit the Bataan Memorial Death March website.