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Memorial March Planners Expect 3,000 at 2000 Event

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 1999 – Those who've trod the rugged, unforgiving terrain of White Sands Missile Range, N.M., know the annual Bataan Memorial Death March might not kill you, but it will severely test your mettle. Those who haven't tried it will get the chance April 16, 2000.

In its 12th year, the annual event memorializes the thousands of American and Filipino soldiers forced by their Japanese captors in April 1942 to march six days through the sweltering Philippine jungle. Planners expect some 3,000 service members and civilians to participate in 2000.

"The Bataan memorial march is one way we can make sure the history of the U.S. military doesn't fade into the background," said Army Capt. Paul Zeps, project officer. "It is a unique tribute to a group of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice."

Zeps said people who want to participate in the 2000 march should begin preparing now.

"The march is just about as challenging as they come, especially in today's realm of extreme sports," Zeps said. "You have to be in shape and train before attempting the march. It's particularly important if you're not acclimated to New Mexico's high desert environment."

The 26.2-mile (1.2 miles longer than last year) course crosses hills, winds around a mountain, and twists and turns along sandy desert trails and washes at altitudes ranging from 4,100 feet to 5,300 feet.

Active and reserve component military member, ROTC, Junior ROTC and retirees can participate as teams or individuals in light or heavy divisions. Service members marching in any military category must wear full field gear, and civilians in any category should wear appropriate attire for a road march through desert terrain. All marchers entered in heavy division categories must also carry a 35-pound rucksack.

Teams can consist of five to seven members, and at least five must cross the finish line together. Team categories are male light, male military light, male military heavy, female light, female military light, female military heavy, coed light, coed military light, coed military heavy, National Guard light, National Guard heavy, ROTC light, ROTC heavy and JROTC light.

Individual categories are male military light, male military over age 40 light, male light, male over 40 light, male military heavy, male heavy, female military light, female military over 40 light, female light, female over 40 light, female military heavy and female heavy.

Entry fees submitted by April 1, 2000, are $110 for teams and $25 for individuals. After April 1, the fees are $150 and $35, respectively. Registered participants will receive a T-shirt, certificate, pre-march continental breakfast and post-march meal.

Online applications are available at the White Sands Missile Range Web site or in hard copy by calling (505) 678-3374. For more information, consult the Web site, call the range public affairs office at (505) 678-1134, or send e-mail to bataan@wsmr.army.mil.

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