Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

May 29, 2015 at 7:09am

A marathon history lesson

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The lessons of history are sometimes bittersweet.

"There is a hallowed piece of Ranger history here," commented Spc. Sheldon Evans, as we sat and talked in the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment's Combat Readiness Training Center, or CRTC.

The bond between Rangers runs from the Revolutionary War to the present. The history Evans spoke of occurred in April 1945, when 120 Rangers from the 6th Ranger Battalion and Philippine guerilla fighters raided the Japanese prisoner of war camp at Cabanatuan and freed more than 500 Filipinos and Americans.

Many of the POWs had survived the April 1942 Bataan Death March.

In 1942, the Japanese Army took approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops prisoner. They were forced to make a 65-mile march to prison camps. Thousands died - many from the brutality of their captors, many from exhaustion and disease - in the intense heat.

In commemorating the Bataan Death March, Evans teamed up with Sgt. Michael Ramirez, Sgt. Jonathan Caruthers, Sgt. Fernando Hernandez and Spc. Rene Karteron to participate in the 73rd Anniversary Celebration of the Bataan Death March survivors.

The Bataan Death March Memorial Run was held March 22 at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

With Evans as team leader, the team answered an email sent by Staff Sgt. Raymond Haldorson seeking volunteers to participate.  

"The response was great; forty-five Rangers volunteered to train for the event," Haldorson said with a grin.  "They're Rangers; what do you expect?"

Time trials determined which Rangers would represent 2/75.

Guided by the battalion's strength coach Allen Wirtala, Evans, Ramirez, Karteron, Caruthers and Hernandez trained for about two months in preparation for the event.

"They trained well; they balanced their training with the work schedule," Wirtala said.

The training paid off on the sands of the missile range: with 35 pounds on their backs, the team covered the 26.2-mile course in five hours, 27 minutes.

"The course was tough, sand and hills," Evans pointed out.  "It is one of the toughest marathons in the country."

After the race, Ramirez and Evans talked with four survivors of the Bataan Death March.

Filed under: 75th Ranger Regiment
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