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CSU-Pueblo ROTC Cadets place in top 10 at Memorial March

Release Date: April 06, 2016

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Press Release

rotc marchPUEBLO -Four members of the Army Reserved Officer's Training Corp (ROTC) at Colorado State University-Pueblo placed in the top 10 at the Bataan Memorial Death March held March 20 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. All 13 of the CSU-Pueblo cadets completed the 26.2 mile event that honors a special group of World War II heroes.

Keane Velez (sophomore, nursing major from Colorado Springs) took third place (4:14:13) followed by Kyle McKenna(sophomore business management major from Black Forest) in fourth place (4:32:05.7), and Christian Montes (sophomore history major from Colorado Springs) in fifth (4:32:05.8), out of 32 participants in the ROTC male light category. Freshman Caitlyn Cowen (pre-nursing major from Pueblo placed fifth out of 21 in the ROTC female heavy category, meaning she competed carrying 35 pounds in her backpack, which was weighed and verified at the finish line. Sixty other ROTC teams from across the country participated in the 2016 Bataan Death March, which registered 6616 total individuals.

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range, 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. Held annually since 1990, this is a full marathon, with a 15 mi (24 km) run for those who do not wish to run the full course, covering paved road and sandy trails. The course included many miles of rough terrain, loose and sometimes deep sand, and significant increases in elevation.

The race is open to all members of the public, though a significant portion of the participants are members of military units of the U.S. and foreign armed forces and their families. Several surviving Bataan prisoners usually await the competitors to congratulate them on completing the grueling march. Many injured veterans including some amputees attend to march as well.

Since its inception, the memorial march has grown from about 100 to some 6,500 marchers from across the United States and several foreign countries. While still primarily a military event, many civilians choose to take the challenge. Marchers come to this memorial event for many reasons - personal challenge, the spirit of competition or to foster esprit de corps in their unit. Some march in honor of a family member or a particular veteran who was in the Bataan Death March, or who were taken a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.

The event honors the soldiers who were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor, and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. 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. The conditions they encountered and the aftermath of the battle were unique. They fought in a malaria-infested region, surviving on half or quarter rations with little or no medical help. They fought with outdated equipment and virtually no air power.

The soldiers 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.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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