JROTC will walk in the footsteps of Bataan POWs
Teaching students about history is one of the goals of the Air Force JROTC at San Marcos High School.
A recent discussion with participating students about the events of Dec. 7, 1941 that went beyond Pearl Harbor and instead, focuses on the invasion at Luzon, Philippines in January 1942, stirred the hearts and minds of students, according to Maj. Anthony Williams, the instructor for the program at SMHS.
He said the students were so moved by hearing of the brave stand by American and Filipino troops who fought for three months past the invasion with few supplies and ammunition, that they decided that they wanted to do something special to honor that memory.
The Americans and the Filipino troops surrendered to Japanese forces and were subjected to cruel treatment later to be defined by the Bataan Death March, in which war crimes were committed. Williams said that Japanese troops forcefully marched approximately 60,000-80,000 Filipino and American POWs through the Philippines in tropical conditions, where these soldiers endured heat, humidity and rain without adequate medical care. There were documented moments along this march where those who could not continue were beaten, killed and in war crime testimony after the war, suffered beheadings along the march. The Bataan Death March carries a legacy that could be forgotten said these JROTC students unless the contributions of those who gave their lives along the route is not allowed to pass into time.
The Air Force JROTC at San Marcos High School, in coordination with the Maurice T. Suttles VFW Post #3413, will pay tribute to the legacy by organizing its first Memorial Bataan March in San Marcos on Saturday, March 25. The event begins at 7 a.m. starting at the high school on 2601 Rattler Road, and will cover a 14.2-mile trek, ending at the VFW Post at 1701 Hunter Road. The students are asking for the community to participate and do the “Ruck March”—filling their rucks backpacks with 10-20 pounds of canned goods. The cost to participate in the march is $10 per person. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Veteran Support Services of the post. For more information, contact Williams at 334-322-4279.