Over 100 Hart District student cadets marched 14.2 miles, some with heavy cans of donated food in their packs, to spread awareness of the Bataan Death March on Sunday.
“We’re commemorating something very tragic that happened,” Golden Valley High School JROTC member Michael Hunt said during the march.
Golden Valley High School along with Valencia High School organized the march to spread awareness of the tragic event.
Beginning on Apr. 9, 1942, 75,000 Filipino and American troops were forced to march 65 miles to prison camps on Luzon Island in WWII. Many soldiers did not survive.
“It’s not just part of the nation’s history, it’s a part of our history,” Hunt said.
The students marched from Golden Valley High School along streets and bike paths and eventually made it to the SCV Food Pantry in Newhall.
“Most of us are carrying cans and donations for troops,” said Bekki Gutierrez, the officer in command.
“The cans represent the weight that these troops had to carry during their 65 miles.”
The cadets made their way to the pantry in various groups, and while the 14-mile-hike was a long one, they were in good company.
“We’ve grown as a family,” Golden Valley JROTC member Alyssa Corleto said. “We’re exhausted, but spirits are high.”
While Corleto was marching, she kept her instructor Major Jose Bareng in mind.
“My grandfather survived the death march,” Bareng said.
“He was captured and they made him march those 65 miles to the prisoner of war camp. The conditions were horrendous.”
Six Hart District High schools participated in the long march, and while students were exhausted after the seven hours of marching, there was one thought at the back of their minds.
“The military has done so much and we feel like it is our duty as representatives to commemorate the things they have gone through,” Hunt said.