By Mackensie Moore, Iowa State Daily
Nine ISU ROTC cadets participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March this year, marching and running 26.2 miles to honor soldiers who became prisoners of war during World War II in the Philippine jungle.
There are two routes participants could choose from during the memorial march: the honorary route and the full route.
The honorary route is shorter, consisting of 14.2 miles in length for participants who would like help memorialize what soldiers endured but do not wish to march the full route. These participants do not receive awards.
Participants that participated in the full route marched a full 26.2 miles, in which awards were presented to the top two finishers of each category.
Cadet Raymond Kiemen, senior in interdisciplinary studies, was the officer and cadet in charge of the cadets for this year’s memorial marathon. This year was Kiemen’s third year participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March.
“The event is not just something for cadets, it’s for all military and is respected throughout the entire military,” Kiemen said.
Cadet Dani Hadaway, junior in biology, competed in the full route of the memorial marathon and placed sixth among ROTC females in the light division, finishing the 26.2 miles in a total of five hours, 54 minutes and 50 seconds.
The day before the memorial marathon, a full-day event occurred that memorialized recent Bataan Death March survivors who died, as well as allowing current survivors in attendance to share their stories.
“Less and less survivors attend every year, so they always announce the name and rank of the survivors not in attendance that year,” Kiemen said.
Approximately 10 survivors were in attendance this year. On the day of the memorial marathon, the survivors met all participants at the beginning of the march and shook their hands. Survivors were also at the end of the march, rooting participants on as they crossed the finish line.
“We got to listen to their stories for about an hour,” Hadaway said. “It was really interesting to hear what it was actually like, not just from a textbook, but what it was actually like to be there.”
Hadaway said she was most interested in the stories that the survivors shared. She said that the stories were both heartbreaking and graphic of all that the soldiers had to endure.
“I can’t even imagine all that they went through, and the fact that they were able to bounce back from that after seeing what they saw and get back to everyday life,” Hadaway said.
Fortunately the weather agreed with the memorial marathon this year. Participants experienced the event around a high of 77.
“It was hotter than what we’re used to in Iowa, but for the desert, I’d say it was perfect weather for running a marathon,” Hadaway said.
Throughout the course, every two miles, volunteers were posted with water and fruit to help hydrate the participants.
“It was all really motivating, especially to know that in just another two miles you were going to get another drink of water,” Hadaway said.
While this was Hadaway’s first year competing, she said that the experience was irreplaceable and plans to participate again next year.
“There are people from around that country and all branches of military that come together. It just shows the brotherhood that exists throughout the military,” Hadaway said. “The whole event is just very humbling and I’ll definitely go back next year.”