Cadets remember fallen soldiers with Bataan Death March

On May 5th, 2023 WHS AFJROTC Cadets went on the Bataan Death March. The students did two and a half laps around the Girl Scouts property located two miles south of the school. Overall they did 14 miles while rucking 20 or more pounds. The first two miles, the cadets had to remain silent while in a two-by formation; they did this out of remembrance for the soldiers.

“The history was American and Filipino prisoners of war that were trapped by the Japanese,” junior Keitan Schwartz said. “They had to march and when they died, their fellow comrades had to carry them. That’s why we carry 20 pounds during our march.” 

Steady marching left cadets in pain. When it began to get hard every cadet cheered on another.

“My favorite part of the march was the support we got,” freshman Allen Harcrow said. “Nobody was putting other people down. Everybody was encouraging others to keep going and pushing to the finish.”

Everybody was dedicated to finishing the march. The cadets walked on holes, rolling hills and knee-high grass. Some gave their backpacks to their peers for a few miles so they could gather themselves. The squadron started their journey at 8:00 A.M. and returned at 12:30 P.M. The group made good time by finishing 30 minutes ahead of last year’s time.

“My favorite part of the march was probably when it ended,” senior Dillan Wilson said. “It was very hard. I mean, when you hear 14 miles you don’t really think about how long that is until you’re constantly walking for hours straight. You realize how long it is.”

The goal was for everyone to finish. Last year the corps had a cadet who was one mile away from the finish, but didn’t make it. This year they all completed the march.

“I chose to carry other people’s weight because I didn’t want anyone to not make it,” Schwartz said. “I feel like everybody went out there for a reason and I didn’t want someone to not be able to finish.”

The stories of the hundreds of soldiers marching inspired some cadets to honor the fallen POWs.

“Knowing the history did motivate me because even though their conditions were rougher, we only went half the distance they did carrying less weight too,” Wilson said. “I saw it as if they were able to do it in even rougher conditions than we should be able to do in those, although still pretty hard, easier conditions.