SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WRBL) — The Smiths Station Ruck Club in coordination with the city of Smiths Station and the high school track team will hold a memorial event commemorating the 79th anniversary of the Bataan Death March.
The event will be held Saturday, April 17 at the Smiths Station Sports Complex beginning at 8 a.m.
“If we do not take care of our vets and honor their service, we will not get future service members,” said Timothy Frost, one of the event organizers. “There are less than a handful of the Bataan Death Marchers left and we want people to know that we remember and care about them.”
The Smiths Station is event is free and part of a larger virtual event honoring the Bataan Death March soldiers. This is the first time the event has been offered virtually. The original event has been held at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
It will include distances of 1 mile, 5k, 10k and 10 mile.
“We should have something for everyone,” Frost said. “You want to just show up and remember, you don’t have to walk anything.”
Frost said that Smiths Station Mayor Bubba Copeland has embraced the event after being approached by Frost, a Smiths Station resident. So, did Lee Rollins and the Smiths Station Ruck Club.
“Knowing what those soldiers went through in 1942, it was an honor to even be asked to help with this event,” Copeland said.
According to the History Channel, after the April 9, 1942 U.S. surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on the main Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese during World War II (1939-45), the approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops on Bataan were forced to make an arduous 65-mile march to prison camps.
The marchers made the trek in intense heat and were subjected to harsh treatment by Japanese guards. Thousands perished in what became known as the Bataan Death March.