Photo courtesy WSMR
Over 9,000 participants are once again scheduled to march through White Sands Missile Range during the 2020 Bataan Memorial Death March, set for March 15.
The Bataan Memorial Death March is a march through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range and honors a special group of World War II heroes, responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines.
On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino Soldiers surrendered to Japanese forces, and were forced to march nearly 70 miles, enduring torture and abuse the entire route. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.
With registration open through March 14, Summer Irvin, Marketing Director for Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said there are several events scheduled during the Bataan weekend, from a concert to seminars to a very special meet and greet.
“This is something that we are incorporating in with Bataan to allow more people to have more things to do during the weekend they are here,” Irvin said. “There are so many visitors that come in from out of town, so we work with the City of Las Cruces and the surrounding communities.”
On Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m., a concert featuring Gary Allan and Lee Brice will be held at the NMSU Pan American Center.
Irvin said they have also added a new seminar called “How to Ruck” presented by GO RUCK at 1:30 p.m. March 13 at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
The “Meet the Bataan Survivors” seminar is back this year at 3:15 p.m. March 14 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Irvin said this year all the survivors who wish to speak will be available in one room.
Something new this year is the addition of a Descendants Display Room, which will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 12 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 13 and 14 at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
WSMR Army Community Service is inviting descendants to contribute Bataan memorabilia such as storyboards, photos, or any historical information or artifacts they would like to share with Bataan Memorial Death March participants and attendees.
“As the event continues each year we have fewer survivors that are able to attend, so we are really counting on the descendants to continue sharing their stories,” Irvin said.
The displays will be set up museum style at the Convention Center. Items will need to be delivered to the WSMR ACS Building 250 on Rock Island Ave. by March 1.
For more information go to the “Contact Us” page on the website at www.BataanMarch.com.
Bell Gym will again be available for billeting on a first come first serve basis starting at 10 a.m. March 12 and free camping is available in designated areas throughout the main WSMR cantonment area.
Marcher Packet Pickup will take place at the Las Cruces Convention Center as follows:
March 12 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
March 13 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
March 14 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Irvin said the process itself shouldn’t take long and people are encouraged to shop the vendors while they wait. She said there are going to be several items branded for Bataan. Some of the sponsors will be giving away neck gaiters, sunscreens, and other items you can use during the march.
When coming on post the morning of the march Irvin said participants and attendees can enter through the Las Cruces Gate and El Paso Gate. However, the Las Cruces Gate will close when the opening ceremony begins at 6 a.m.
After that, participants can still come on post through Gate 18 and the El Paso Gate. Entrance to Gate 18 is located about 5 miles further on Highway 70.
“We do encourage everyone to head to the missile range as early as possible,” Irvin said. “Get on the road no later than 4 a.m. even if you are out here an hour before.”
All marchers need to be in their waves by 6 a.m. because opening ceremony starts at 6:30 a.m.
Irvin said there will be coffee vendors near the start line and the Post Exchange will have food vendors in their parking lot area throughout the day. Spectators can also purchase food at the Frontier Club.
She adds that marchers should make sure to wear their bib across their chest and nowhere else so the timing system can track them. She said the bib also serves as your meal ticket.
“And don’t forget your flip flops for your own comfort because once you take those boots or sneakers off it will be hard to put them back on,” Irvin said.
Parking for the event is planned with the safety of the participants in mind. “When you have that many people, we have to have a safe standoff distance,” Irvin said.
Parking areas will be color coded red, green or yellow with banner flags so that participants and attendees can remember where they parked at the end of the event. A shuttle service will be available at the finish line once you are done to take you to your vehicle. Look for the golf carts.
Spectators will only be allowed to congregate at the finish line. There will be extra Bataan Memorial Death March Programs available at the information table at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
WSMR residents are reminded that cannons will be fired in the early morning of both Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 as part of the event.
Volunteers are still needed to help stuff packets for the event.
Things to Remember:
- March 15 at 6 a.m. Marchers report to the Opening Ceremonies/Start Line on Aberdeen Ave.
- Make sure you wear your bib across your chest and nowhere else so the timing system can track you.
- Read your marcher event program for all the details and important information.
March 13 at 1:30 p.m. – “How to Ruck” presented by GO RUCK at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
March 13 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Pizza Night with entertainment by the 1AD Band at the Frontier Club in Building 1330
March 13 at 7 p.m. – Bataan Movie “Forgotten Soldiers” at the Post Theater Building 254
March 13 at 7 p.m. – Bataan Memorial Concert featuring Gary Allan and Lee Brice at the NMSU Pan American Center.
March 13 at 8:30 p.m. – Karaoke Night featuring onstage karaoke with DJ Reyne at the Spare Time Lunge inside Roadrunner Lanes Bowling Center Building 234.
March 14 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Saturday Breakfast at the Coyote Snack Bar inside Roadrunner Lanes Bowling Center Building 234.
March 14 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Breakfast Buffet at the Frontier Club Building 1330.
March 14 at 10 a.m. – Free historical seminars conducted by New Mexico State University ROTC at the Las Cruces Convention Center in Ballroom 1 and 2.
March 14 at 11:30 a.m. – The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project at the Las Cruces Convention Center Ballroom 1 and 2.
March 14 at 1 p.m. – Bataan Congressional Gold Medal Presentation at the Las Cruces Convention Center Ballroom 1 and 2.
March 14 at 3:15 p.m. – Meet the Bataan Survivors seminar at the Las Cruces Convention Center Ballroom 2.
March 14 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. – All-You-Can-Eat Pasta Buffet with dinner entertainment by the 1AD Band at the Frontier Club Building 1330.
March 14 at 6 p.m. – Bataan Movie “The Great Raid” at the Post Theater Building 254.
March 14 at 7 p.m. – Protestant religious services with special guest Col. Andrew Harewood at the Post Chapel Building 265.
March 15 at 6 a.m. – Marchers report to Opening Ceremonies/Start Line on Aberdeen Avenue.
March 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Breakfast Buffet at the Frontier Club Building 1330.
March 15 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Marcher Meal at the Frontier Club Building 1330.
March 15 at 3 p.m. – Closing Ceremonies and Awards at the Frontier Club Building 1330.
Author: Miriam Rodriguez – Missile Range Editor