By Lisa Blevins
Public Affairs Office
More than 117 military and civilian personnel stationed at Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, conducted a Bataan Memorial Death March in honor of the men and women responsible for the defense of the Philippines in World War II March 18.
The shadow march to the annual Bataan Memorial Death March held at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico March 20, was the brain child of Lt. Col. Gregg Haley, Commander, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment currently in Afghanistan.
When asked why he would want to organize and support a Bataan Memorial Death March while being deployed, Haley said there were two main reasons. “The first is to simply continue honoring these heroes that gave so much,” referring to the number of World War II veterans. “There are no known survivors of World War I,” he said. “These heroes are gone and the number of World War II veterans are dwindling rapidly as well, I wanted to reach out and do a little bit more and take it to another level by executing a ‘Shadow March’ in their honor to show our love for them and their families and, of course, all the fallen and wounded warriors from all other wars past.”
Haley said the other reason to do this event is that Soldiers crave and desire a challenge. “Every so often we need a mission or challenge that makes you sweat, bleed and sometimes tear up,” he said. “It does the soul good and keeps you focused and ensures you maintain the mental and physical readiness required of a Soldier or Leader.”
Haley completed the Bataan Memorial Death March in 2004 and always promised himself he would do it again. When he decided to conduct a shadow march, Haley was reminded of the course at White Sands and designed his course to be as tough as he could. The participants of the marathon-length route moved back and forth through the rocks, dirt, and mud and were not allowed to listen to music. As he reminded them during opening ceremony remarks, “Today you get to think about the music the Soldiers at Bataan sang, their own battle cry, let that be your motivation today.” With that in mind he recited the words to the Bataan battle cry and the march was on – “We are The Battling Bastards of Bataan. No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam; No Aunts, No Uncles, No Nephews, No Nieces; No Pills, No Planes, No Artillery Pieces – And Nobody Gives A Damn.”