Elon student, professor complete Bataan Memorial Death March
Thousands of participants in the New Mexico event this month marched 26.2 miles wearing military uniforms and 35-pound rucksacks.
More than 7,000 people participated the weekend of March 24-25, 2012, in the Bataan Memorial Death March, including Elon’s own Jack Blanchflower and Assistant Professor & Major Andrew Anderson. Representing both the Elon Army ROTC and Scabbard and Blade Honor Society, they marched 26.2 miles in the heat of White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
Each participant wore their military uniform and a 35-pound rucksack on their back and marched for more than seven hours. The ceremony drew dozens of survivors of the real Bataan Death March including 94-year-old survivor, Ben Skardon of Clemon, S.C.
The Bataan Memorial Death March honors the soldiers who were forced to march 80 miles as Japanese prisoners of war during World War II. They marched for days through the scorching heat of the Philippine jungle and thousands died or were killed by their captors when they tried to stop to take a break or to get water from nearby streams.
The Army ROTC program at New Mexico State began to sponsor the march in 1989. Both Blanchflower and Anderson had been training for months and were thrilled to be the first members from Elon University to complete the march.