Patrick Driver of Lapin Law Offices completed his third Bataan Memorial Death March on March 25, 2018. The Memorial March is an annual event to remember the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands, and after being captured, were forced to march over 65 miles to internment camps during World War II. Many of these service members died in battle, during the march, while imprisoned or after being freed. Patrick entered the Heavy Division of the Memorial March, which required him to march 26.2 miles while wearing a thirty-five pound (35lb) backpack. Not only did Patrick finish, he achieved a personal best time this year.
Bataan Death March
Members of the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines, along with Filipino soldiers were tasked with defending the islands of Luzon, Corregidor, and the harbor-defense forts of the Philippines during World War II. The Philippines were crucial to both the Japanese and United States. These services members fought in areas that were malaria-infested. In addition, these soldiers had very little food, lacked proper medical attention and supplies, had outdated equipment and virtually no air support.
Eventually, the soldiers had to retreat to the Philippine Peninsula, where Japanese forces overwhelmed them. On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 United States and Filipino soldiers were forced to surrender to Japanese forces and became prisoners of war. These soldiers were treated extremely harshly and deprived of food, water and medical attention. They were also forced to march sixty-five (65) miles to confinement camps. Approximately 10,000 soldiers died during the march, of which 1,000 were American. A significant number of men also died while in the camps or after they were freed.
Bataan Memorial Death March
In 1989, the New Mexico State University’s Army ROTC Department began sponsoring the Bataan Memorial Death March. The purpose of the Memorial March was “to mark a page in history that included many native sons and affected many families in the state.” White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard joined in the sponsorship in 1992 and the event moved to the White Sands Missile Range.
Since the first Memorial March, participation has grown from about 100 to over 8,400 marchers. While still primarily a military event, many civilians, from throughout the United States as well as foreign countries, choose to participate in the challenging march.
As stated by the Bataan Memorial Death March website:
Marchers participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March 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 was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Philippines.
Participants choose between two courses: a 14.2-mile route or a 26.2-mile route. The March has both civilian and military participants, who choose to register for Heavy or Light Divisions as well as individuals and teams. In the Heavy Division, participants must carry a minimum of 35 pounds, including their backpacks. Their backpacks are weighed and verified at the finish line to ensure compliance.
Source material and information about the Bataan Death March and the Bataan Memorial Death March is from Bataan Memorial Death March.
2018 Bataan Memorial Death March & Patrick Driver
This year’s Bataan Memorial Death March, held on March 25, 2018, had a record number of almost 8,500 participants. One of the participants was Retired Col. Beverly “Ben” Skardon, who is 100 years old, has been the only participant ever who actually survived the Bataan Death March. This was his 11th Memorial March in the past 12 years.
Another participant was Patrick Driver of Lapin Law Offices. This was his third Memorial March. Patrick raced in the “Civilian Heavy” Division by carrying his thirty-five pound backpack through 26.2 miles of high desert terrain. He finished with a personal record of 6:29:38.099. He was 29th out of 678 finishers in the Individual Civilian Male Heavy Division and 9th out of 219 finishers in his age group. (ITS YOUR RACE: Individual CIVILIAN Male Heavy Division and Individual CIVILIAN Male Heavy – Age Group: 30-39).
Patrick, a civilian, besides the personal challenge the Bataan Death March Memorial offers, said he was honored to participate to support our current soldiers and to commemorate the heroic actions in the Philippines during WWII. He also felt humbled to march with active and retired service members, Wounded Warriors and members of international delegations.
Lapin Law Offices fully supports our soldiers, past and present, and their families, who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom. We are very proud of Patrick for participating in the Bataan Death March Memorial marathon as well as his achieving a new personal best time.