NMSU ROTC remembers Bataan Death March through virtual run


Image courtesy of NMSU ROTC on Facebook

NMSU ROTC cadets who participated in the first virtual Bataan Memorial Death March are pictured.

New Mexico State University Army ROTC cadets participated in NMSU’s first virtual Bataan Memorial Death March on April 9.  

Last year’s run was cancelled due to the COVID-19. This year, the event was carried on virtually from April 9 through April 18, which were the dates of the Bataan Death March in 1942. 

It was kind of weird going to a virtual event compared to actually going to White Sands Missile Range and competing with the 1000s of marchers and runners,” Co-Captain of the Army ROTC Male Run Team Kabel Brooks said. I had the chance to run in my freshman year and now being a junior going on senior running it virtually was pretty cool.” 

Brooks said his team’s 26-mile route included the Las Cruces Dam, La Llorona Park by the Rio Grande, Old Mesilla, through NMSU and a return back to where they started at the dam.  

“We got to see a whole lot of the beauty within Cruces that night. We also were to see some university friends, it was a really profound experience,” Brooks said. “Being able to run Bataan, even if we’re not with thousands of people, we’re still connecting with thousands virtually nationwide.” 

Co-Captain of the NMSU ROTC Male Run Team Rene Corella said the months of training leading to the event were gradually increasing the miles ran each day. On the night before the event, their team would load up on energy.  

The night before, we made sure everyone loaded up on carbs. So, we actually had an Olive Garden night where everyone just gets pasta, that way they’re not lacking energy during the run,” Corella said.  

For freshman who experienced the event for the first time like NMSU ROTC Cadet Jonah Haven, the march was brutally difficult, even when approaching the last four miles. He said he felt proud for what he achieved. 

Pardon my French, but it felt damn good going across that finish line knowing that I made it,” Haven said.  

This was also the first event where NMSU ROTC had an all-female running team. Captain of the Female NMSU ROTC Run Team Kelsie White expressed how proud she was of herself and her teammates for being able to finish the run. She said finishing the 26-mile run was a good feeling when considering there are some who overlook women in the Army. 

I’m honored. It’s kind of the standard, especially in the military, where a lot of guys look down on females. This gave everyone a reality check on what we’re capable of,” White said.  

Haven said the event’s significance lies within honoring the American and Filipino soldiers who were prisoners of the Japanese in World War II.  

I think it’s really important to memorialize them and not forget the fallen. It happens all too often these days when people just don’t know the sacrifice and they don’t have a reference to be for what they have in this country,” Haven said.  

All four cadets stated they would be likely to run in next year’s event whether virtually or held at White Sands Missile Range.  

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