Tyndall Airman participates in Bataan Memorial Death March
By Captain Katie Johnson, 53rd Test Support Squadron
/ Published March 30, 2016
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
In the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the annual Bataan Memorial Death March was held March 20 in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.
The challenging 26.2-mile march pays tribute to the approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops who suffered during Japan’s arduous prison relocation in April 1942. Thousands died during the 70-mile march and many more suffered from the harsh conditions as prisoners of war. Marathon Guide regards it as one of the top 30 marathons in the United States.
Technical Sgt. Julia Getter from the 53rd Test Support Squadron took part in the grueling 26.2-mile course again this year, making it her fifth time participating in the event.
Growing up in White Sands, Getter was immersed early on in the history and stories of the Bataan Death March. She remembers writing papers and doing research on the heroes who inspired this commemorative race.
The history and stories of the survivors is what motivated her early on to serve in the event’s many different facets. Her preparation training included logging as many miles as possible in combat boots and a 35-pound ruck sack.
“It is a great way to bring the family together to go on hikes and do some cardio while training for the event,” said Getter.
There were eight survivors of the perilous march in attendance, including 98-year-old Ben Skardon, who hiked eight and a half miles at this year’s event, shaking hands and cheering on those who walked with him. Although fewer and fewer survivors are around each year, hearing their stories and understanding the why behind their service brings Getter back to White Sands to show her support for those who have served before her.