WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) will participate in the 25th annual Bataan Memorial Death March on Sunday, March 23, 2014. The memorial event is a challenging 26.2-mile march through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, 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 very lives.
"The number of New Mexicans captured at Bataan gave our state the highest per capita ratio of Prisoners of War of all states during World War II. But statistics don't capture the true spirit of what happened there," said Heinrich. "What the veterans of the Bataan Death March endured is one of the most moving and harrowing stories of personal sacrifice, perseverance, and patriotism. It will be a true honor to participate in the 25th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March as we pay humble tribute to and learn from the survivors of Bataan."
On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard. They were marched for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.
The Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University began sponsoring the Bataan Memorial Death March in 1989 to mark a page in history that included so many native sons and affected many families in the state. In 1992, White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard joined in the sponsorship and the event was moved to the missile range.
This year's memorial march will include 6,200 participants representing each state in the union and nine foreign countries. At the opening ceremony, the 13 Bataan survivors attending the event will be recognized.
Reporters/photographers planning to cover the march must call the White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office at (575) 678-1134 by 5 p.m. MT on Friday, March 21 to register and for more details.
For more information about the 25th annual Bataan Memorial Death March, visit: http://www.bataanmarch.com