April 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the brutal Bataan Death March where Japanese soldiers oversaw the 85-mile forced march of captured American and Filipino soldiers during World War II. The prisoners were tortured, abused, and fed one rice meal a day during the March and as many as 10,000 of the estimated 60,000 died along the way.
To commemorate the sacrifices of these brave men and provide an opportunity for Air Force JROTC cadets from William Byrd High School and E.C. Glass High School to earn the Bataan ribbon, volunteer cadets from the two units will participate in a memorial march on April 1. Cadets will be collecting pledges per mile to donate to the Relay for Life team.
Cadets will hike a seven-mile stretch (out and back, 14 miles) of the Appalachian Trail starting at Black Horse Gap and turning around at Bearwallow Gap. This section of the trail crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway several times and has numerous overlook parking areas. The parking areas will allow logistic support vehicles to shadow the hiking group to provide food, water, and medical support to the team, as needed.
Cadets will be dressed in uniform as directed by their Senior Aerospace instructor carrying raingear and extra socks. They will carry camelbaks or canteens provided by the unit. They will also be carrying along band-aids and moleskin.
The team will carry a pack with more substantial med supplies including SAM splints, bandages, dressings, etc. A medical supply kit will also be with the logistic support element.
Adult team leaders will accompany the group and others will leapfrog the support vehicles to each overlook position as the group progresses through the trek. Leaders will have cell phones and radio contact between the hiking groups and the support element.
Cadets will stop for lunch at the Bobblet’s Gap parking area at about the 9.5-mile mark.
The hike is planned to be conducted during daylight hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Cadets will assemble in the JROTC classroom at William Byrd for gear inspection prior to the hike.
The hike will occur even if it is raining, unless more severe conditions dictate postponement or cancellation of the hike.
Donations may be made to Relay for Life by calling Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.