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Gilbert Lodge
Since 2004



                 Gilbert Lodge Blog
         The life and times of Mark and Paula Persons

Saturday July 12, 2014:   

The 17th Annual Bataan Memorial March was held that day.

Several hundred showed up to see and participate. 

The only remaining local survivor of the Bataan Death March is Walt Strakka.  Mark told Walt that he did not need to walk this day because he had "been there and done that!"  Many wanted to meet and congratulate Walt that day.

It all goes back to the beginning of World War II when Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard 34th Tank Company, and others, were sent to the Philippine Islands to help defend against the Japanese.  To the surprise of military leaders on both sides, the U.S. soldiers held their positions until they ran out of ammunition and other supplies in four months of brutal fighting.  They became known as the "Battling Bastards of Bataan."  After surrendering to the Japanese, 15,000 prisoners were marched 80 miles without food or water.  Some 500 Americans and 5000 Philippines' died along the route.  Only 32 of the 64 Brainerd soldiers survived World War II.  The Japanese commander who ordered this treatment was convicted of "crimes against humanity" after the war and executed.   

Participants were briefed on walking a ten-mile circuit south of Brainerd that day. 

Some runners covered the route twice for a total of twenty miles.

Solders and civilians were in good spirits at the beginning of the walk.

Most felt that way after ten miles.

There were plenty of flags lining the street at the National Guard Armory as walkers headed out.
Anyone and everyone was given a chance to do the walk. 
Even Mark set out to cover the course.

He does not usually walk ten miles in a day.

In U.S. Army basic training, Mark remembers doing a twenty mile forced march with a back pack, steel helmet, rifle, and ammunition.  He was 19 at the time.

There were aid stations and soldiers driving the course to pick up stragglers.

Mark was not one to give up.

However, Mark was passed at about the five mile mark by a runner who was on his second lap through the route.

Mark felt a bit tired after eight miles, but stuck it out.  It took him three hours to complete the ten mile course, which is 18 minutes per mile.

Hungry participants were served spaghetti in the Armory mess hall. 

Quote of the day:  Anything for a free lunch.   Mark < Back to previous story Ahead to next story >

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page last edited 09/11/2014