ROTC Cadets from the Ram Battalion plan to march in a 26.2-mile trek to commemorate those killed in the Bataan Death March.
There are 15 cadets from the battalion who plan to participate in the march, which takes place on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on March 25.
They will march in the heavy division which requires them to carry 35 pounds in a rucksack over sandy terrain ranging in elevation from 4,100 to 5,300 feet. Their goal is to finish the march in seven to eight hours.
“I will do everything I can to honor and respect those (soldiers) who came before me,” said Michael Bellenoit, a professor of military science. Bellenoit has been in the Army for 17 years and is accompanying the cadets to New Mexico.
About 4,000 people march, mostly members of the military but also civilians. Survivors of the Bataan Death March are also honored at the march.
“This is one of the last years that the survivors will be there,” said Lawton Hare, a senior criminal justice major and leader of the cadets who are participating in the march. “It is good to be able to support these troops.”
CSU cadets have been training hard to prepare for the march. Training has included one team practice a week in which the soldiers walk progressively longer distances with their 35-pound packs.
Hare said the team plans to complete a 20-mile march before they leave for New Mexico. Participants are also encouraged to march for two hours twice a week on their own. Other preparation techniques include running and weight lifting.
“This is one more way cadets can work together and help each other,” said Hare, who has participated in the march before.
The cadets are marching for a variety of reasons. For some it is a training tool, for others a way to honor those who were killed.
Hare said it’s a way for him to leave a legacy at CSU and prepare for his future in the military.
“It’s like leaving something behind to ROTC,” Hare said. “It is also a stepping stone that will allow me to be ready for whatever training I will need in the future.”
The cadets are holding a fundraiser at Cold Stone Creamery Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m. in order to help with travel, lodging and registration costs. They hope to raise $3,500 to cover costs Bellenoit said.
“We would hope that as many folks as can come down and support us.”
Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.