Junior ROTC commemorates Bataan Death March

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Great Falls Public School Junior ROTC cadets are strapping up their boots for a 14-mile march to commemorate the horrific Bataan Death March.

It may not be the same distance some of our American troops were forced to take, but these young cadets are taking a 14-mile march to show their appreciation to these soldiers.

On April 9th, 1942, American troops on the Bataan peninsula of the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese and were later forced to go on torturous march more than 65 miles. That march is now known as the Bataan Death March.

This is something all Junior ROTC’s are studying across the nation and its goal is to raise awareness for POW’s and MIA's.

"It’s called Prisoners of War & Missing in Action so there's still 55 Montanan’s who are unaccounted for, who went to war and they were either taken prisoner or they're missing, their remains haven't been identified, and so we don't know what exactly happened to them," said retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Brian Holbein.

Chris Long is the cadet first lieutenant and has been a part of the Junior ROTC for three years, and learning about the Bataan Death March is something he'll never forget.

"Honestly it was kind of jaw-dropping… to hear that those men survived miles of marching and sickness and all those other horrible things in life," said Long.

Even though the 14-mile march was only a fraction of what some of the troops went through it was a journey they were happy to complete.

"It's kind of fulfilling actually, it feels really good once you complete that. Obviously, we're not marching the full, we're only marching the 14, but for a lot of us that's a lot because we're not the most in shape, we're not soldiers that's been serving for quite a few years on end. This is our way to say we thank you for what you did to us and this is how we'll remember you," said Long.

This march the JROTC is doing a fundraiser for charity, and this year half of the proceeds are going towards Montana Veteran’s Meat Locker.

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