Remembering Bataan: Part II

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Cadets from the Rutherford High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program completed the second half of their 14-mile Bataan Memorial Death March at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., April 8, 2017.

Of the several purposes of the event, the cadets had the opportunity to honor the fallen and surviving veterans of the original march, listen to first hand experiences from enlisted members of Tyndall, and receive the new JROTC decoration: the Bataan Death March Ribbon.

During the planning of the event Rutherford High JROTC instructor (Ret.) Senior Master Sgt. Gilbert Garcia and Staff Sgt. Cameron Culliver from the 325th Security Forces Squadron (job title) worked together to make the event a success.

“I reached out to Staff Sgt. Culliver from the 325th Security Forces Squadron. I told him about the event and he responded and took care of everything,” Garcia elated. “I got a lot of good support from the 325th SFS. There were members of the community police to help out and supervise. Some of the members of the squadron were even out marching with the cadets. That exchange of information between the enlisted and the cadets was really awesome.”

The historical significance of the event and the chance to mentor potential officers was not lost on the event volunteers.

“Tyndall and the 325th SFS are committed to building positive relationships with the communities surrounding our base,” Culliver said. “These Rutherford High School JROTC cadets have the potential to be part of the future of our enlisted/officer corps. It is important to try to cultivate a mentality of service before self by enlightening the cadets of the strife and struggle that may come with life in the military.”

“This event was a perfect opportunity to mentor and instill in to their young minds the sacrifice the military and its veterans have put forth to ensure the freedoms of the American people,” Culliver added. “I believe with the classroom history lesson, coupled with the conversations with our volunteers, they have learned useful information.”

The JROTC instructor was filled with pride as he watched the final cadets finish the second half of the 14 mile march.

“I was pretty pleased with the event,” Garcia said. “About 99 percent of my cadets finished the walk before I expected them to. There were a couple stragglers, but that happens. I thought some weren’t going to make it, but I was wrong – and I’m glad I was wrong.”

As the cadets returned to their school with new information and experiences, Tyndall and its units will continue to look for other opportunities to invest in future military members by offering mentoring and wingmanship.