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DASD James Rodriguez, pictured center, stands with wounded, ill, and injured Service members at the 27th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March on March 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Miriam U. Rodriguez
By Mrs. Miriam U. Rodriguez (ATEC), Missile Ranger
March 20, 2016
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (March 20, 2016) -- Over 6,600 marchers, including wounded warriors, a 10 year old and a 98 year old participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March, March 20, honoring those who endured the Bataan Death March.
The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a special group of World War II heroes responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.
"We have marchers here covering nine decades," said event host WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin. "That is the history of our past … and the foundation of our future."
Coffin called the event "a gathering of eagles" that included participants from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and several foreign countries. "We have the wise (eagles) … who have seen much and give us much advice, we have young eagles in the prime of their life with much strength and we have the younger eagles to whom we are showing the way."
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Office of Warrior Care Policy, James Rodriguez was among the leaders marching with wounded warriors.
"I am honored and privileged to be marching alongside many of our nation's veterans and service members," Rodriguez said. "The Bataan Memorial Death March serves as an important reminder of the enduring resilience and perseverance of our nation's heroes. I see these same distinct qualities in the men and women who proudly wear the uniform today and in our wounded, ill and injured service members who are striving each day to successfully recover."
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