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Putnam City JROTC cadets to commemorate Bataan Death March

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Cadets who are part of JROTC units at Putnam City High School and Putnam City West High School will join cadets from seven other JROTCs plus military recruiters and Tinker Air Force Base personnel Saturday morning in a march to commemorate the infamous World War II Bataan Death March.

The march will begin at 9 a.m. on the south side of the Oklahoma River trail in a parking lot at SW 15 and Portland. The march will end in the same spot after 200-plus participants have walked 14.1 miles. Some cadets will attempt a 26-mile version of the event, as well.

The Bataan Death March occurred in 1942 after the Japanese attacked the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines, where American and Filipino soldiers were stationed. On April 9, 1942, the United States and Filipino soldiers surrendered after months of battle, disease and dwindling or exhausted vital supplies. The soldiers, deprived of food, water and medical attention, were forced to march 65 miles to confinement camps. As many as 10,000 soldiers were killed or died while marching.

Those who take part in the commemorative event do so for many reasons, said Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Dane Christensen, who directs Putnam City High’s JROTC program.

“It is such a unique event. We get to honor heroes of the past, and at the same time our cadets will find out something about themselves as they endure a significant physical challenge and develop a sense of personal pride for finishing the course,” Christensen said.

Each participant who completes the 14.1 mile journey will receive a commemorative T-shirt, coin and ribbon for their uniforms.

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