CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In preparation to complete 26.2 miles at the Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico on Sunday, March 20, 10 ROTC cadets in the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islander Battalion have logged hundreds of miles and committed countless hours at the gym, getting their bodies and minds ready for the trek.
“The race itself is not something to take lightly. Running 26.2 miles, a marathon, is pretty intense, but doing a ruck march, which involves walking as fast as you can with a 35-pound backpack strapped to you, is another thing entirely,” said Tyler Anthony Hensley, sophomore ROTC Cadet Staff Sergeant. “I’m confident that our training has prepared us for the harsh terrain.”
The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range, N.M., conducted in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health and, in many cases, their lives.
“The event is an active history lesson and a test of true endurance,” said Lt. Col. Curtis Johnson, Professor of Military Science at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “I am proud of our students and our future Army leadership.”
The ROTC Islander Battalion cadets began training for the trek back in late January. The training to build stamina and condition their feet has included short and long distance runs on different terrains, including The South Rim Loop at Big Bend National Park; sprints, cross training, weights, and culminates with a 20-mile run on March 13, the Saturday before the march.
“The training has proven to be a more intense workout regimen than we imagined,” said Hensley. “As a result, all the participants have seen improvement in their Army Physical Fitness Test, with faster run times and increases in their pushups and situps.”
Cadets have been assisted in their training mission by Hannah Copenhaver, Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer assigned to the ROTC Battalion.
“The cadets will face many obstacles during the march, including dehydration and possible heat illness, blisters and overuse injuries,” said Copenhaver. “But, I expect all the cadets to succeed. They have worked very hard and have endured vigorous training. They are ready.”