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Local News

March 27, 2014

Marching to remember

The Bataan Death March was one of the most grueling marches in history.

Nearly 10,000 Filipinos and 650 American POWs died during the 80-mile march from Mariveles, Bataan, to San Fernando after they surrendered after the Battle of Bataan in World War II.

For Greenville Middle School student Travis Breathwit and his father, retired Marine Ronald Breathwit, their yearly experience helps them remember what happened.

Travis and his father run in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The memorial march is a marathon (26.2 miles) held to honor the soldiers who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II,

A marathon in itself is a test of endurance to finish, but this takes it one step further.

The course takes runners through deep sands and over a mountain, reaching an elevation of 1,600 feet.

Each year, survivors of the march are honored through a roll call conducted by the military.

With more than 1,000 WWII veterans dying on average every day, only five survivors of the march were in attendance.

Travis said the event was very patriotic and honoring to veterans and current members of the military.

He said it was great to see the support of not only the U.S. military, but also the French Paratroopers and German military who participateD in the memorial.

“They had jets streaming, canons going off and paratroopers landing,” he said. “The commander of the base gave a speech and ran it with us.”

Last year, Travis ran the 14.1 mile event, but said this year he wanted to push himself more and compete with his dad in the full marathon.

“This year I thought I accomplished more,” he said. “It made me feel better about myself.”

Travis said the many obstacles made the run that much harder, but with the help of his father he was able to finish.

Although this is a memorial event, it is still a race, one which Travis ran well.

Travis finished the tough race with a time of 6:16, finishing 16th in his age group and 330 out of the more than 6,000 runners.

“The enthusiasm just gave me more energy,” he said.

Travis said there were some friendly rivalries where they would go back and forth passing each other, but because the runners felt a bond of brotherhood, at the end of the day “it’s about helping each other finish.”

 

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