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Fourteen cadets from S&T’s Air Force ROTC program completed one of the toughest marathons in the U.S. The cadets competed in the “heavy duty” division of the Bataan Death March Marathon on March 17 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. In this division, runners are required to wear a 35-pound pack.
“The cumulative effect of that added weight over 26.2 miles creates an incomprehensibly brutal degree of difficulty that puts Bataan in a marathon class all its own,” says Lt. Col. Brent Unger, commander of Det. 442 at S&T. “Bataan is the single toughest mental and physical challenge I have ever experienced, but we do it as a way to honor the actual WWII Bataan marchers and as a way to push ourselves to the limit to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for a real-world combat environment. What makes me so proud is that most of these Det. 442 cadet warriors ran Bataan this year as their very first marathon, which takes unbelievable courage and grit.”
These S&T cadets ran the 26.2 miles in full combat attire with the pack:
- Freshmen: Ean Buffington, Aaron Hardy, Colin Hayes, Blake Janas, Adam Johnson, Anna Palm, Wyatt Thompson and David Thurlo
- Sophomores: Matthew Underwood and Brenden Young
- Juniors: Scott Connelly, John Gray and Daniel Lober (now enlisted)
- Senior: Joshua Baumer.
To prepare, the cadets trained for six months while juggling their academic coursework and other Air Force ROTC requirements. They also funded their participation and caravanned 16 hours by car to White Sands Missile Range for the event.
The annual Bataan Memorial Death March is conducted in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.
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