CSU-Pueblo’s Bataan Memorial March remembers WWII POWs
On April 9, 1942 the U.S. surrendered the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines to Japanese forces. Approximately 75,000 U.S. and Filipino troops were taken prisoner by Japanese forces as a result of the surrender. Those prisoners were forced to march in intense heat and suffered abject treatment from their captors. Thousands did not survive the march, which is now known as the Bataan Death March.
On Saturday Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) will host the inaugural Bataan Memorial March. The event will begin at 9:04 a.m. at Fountain Plaza. Those participating will either take part in the 5k walk/run or in the 13.1-mile march with members of SVA.
“I think it’s a great cause to commemorate a tragic event that often flies under the radar of World War II tragedies,” said Charles Terry of Colorado Springs whose Filipino ancestry led him to learn more of the event. “My mother did not speak of it much, in fact, it’s kind of a black eye among many in Filipino-Japanese relations.”
Though accounts vary, the prisoners of war marched approximately 60 to 70 miles between Mariveles to San Fernando and from the Capas Train Station to Camp O’Donnell where their transfer was to take place. Accounts also vary on the amount of POWs who perished on the march, but it is estimated that 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino soldiers died on the march as well as 500 to 650 American soldiers.
In memory of those soldiers as well as to help out veterans who are returning to academia after serving their country, the SVA put together this inaugural event with the assistance of the President of SVA, James Edwards and event coordinator Greg York.
“From there we had a meeting where the rest of the SVA members gave their input,” Edwards said in a release. “All the money raised will be used to raise a scholarship for veterans at CSU-Pueblo. Post-race festivities in the parking area will include a U.S. Army National Asset, a trailer that includes an interactive platform which allows participants to drive a Humvee in a real world simulation. SVA also has helped coordinate a parachuting team that land on the football field with the game ball.”
Participants are encouraged to arrive at Fountain Plaza at 7 a.m. on Saturday to check in and register. Registration fees are $25 per person or $100 for a team of five. The proceeds from the event will benefit the CSU-Pueblo Student Veterans of America Scholarship Fund. Participants of the event will also receive a free ticket to the day’s homecoming game against Adams State and other prizes will also be available the day of the event. The first 100 people to sign up will receive a T-shirt and commemorative glass.
Also on hand for the event will be E.J. Snyder, an Army combat veteran recently known for his appearances on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid. Snyder will serve as the grand marshal of the event. With 25 years of military service, serving Ranger positions in Infantry and Airborne units, Snyder is one of many U.S. Military Veterans to capitalize on the abilities he obtained in the field. Snyder will also be at CSU-Pueblo’s Hoag Recital Hall on Friday to speak on leadership at 11 a.m. The speech is free to CSU-Pueblo students with an ID or $10 per person for non-students. Snyder will field questions following his presentation.
Since 2008 SVA has benefited over one million veterans who have returned home to pursue a post-secondary degree or certification using Veteran Affairs education benefits. To meet this need, SVA’s presence at the local and national levels has grown to include over 1,300 chapter affiliates, numerous private and nonprofit partners and an expanding list of impactful programs and services for veterans.