Major Doug Couch and OH-881 Sophomore cadet Unit Historian, Harley Adamson

In spite of frigid conditions, cadets from Tecumseh’s OH-881 and Fairborn’s OH-031 JROTC units came together on Saturday to participate in the second annual Bataan Death March Memorial Hike.

The 14 mile hike honors the memory of the thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives during the excruciating 65-mile Bataan Death March in the Philippines during World War II. It also serves as a significant fundraiser for Honor Flight, with cadets gathering pledges in exchange for completing the event.

OH-881 Sophomore cadet and Unit Historian, Harley Adamson, coordinated the event with help from OH-881 Senior cadet, Matthew Lindamood.

After a solemn opening ceremony in Tecumseh Middle School, over 50 cadets lined up to either run or walk 14 miles in 32-degree weather. Maj. Doug Couch, an advisor for the OH-881, says the freezing conditions were perfect for the event.

“There should be a level of harshness to this Hike,” explains Maj. Couch, “The men who were part of the Bataan Death March did it in horrible conditions. Thousands died. We don’t want anyone to get hurt here, but this also shouldn’t be a walk in the park either. The (cadets) should experience some hardship doing this (particular event).”

All participants finished the Memorial Hike in just under 4 hours. First place finisher, OH-881 Sophomore cadet Jaden Macik, and third place finisher, OH-031 Freshman cadet Wylie Parker, agree that the event is an effective way to remember the difficulties faced by those who were forced to take the Bataan Death March. They also say completing the Hike gives one a unique sense of accomplishment.

“You are out there and it’s so cold. Then you remember that those men were forced to walk in horrible, hot conditions. (...) It helps you think about what you have and what they must have gone through...and this is really so much easier than what they experienced.”

Both cadets are athletes, but neither is involved in any long-distance running activities, so they say the Hike also helped them appreciate the importance of conditioning. They further comment that they would like to see more JROTC events like the Memorial Hike, saying, “This was really fun, and it makes you think. It was a really good thing to have.”

First, second, and third place winners received medals and a coupon for Slice of Heaven pizzeria in Enon. Everyone received a certificate of participation upon completing the entire course.

Cadet Adamson says over 20 volunteers from Tecumseh High School and the local community gave their time and talents to make the day a success.

All of the monies collected are being donated directly to Honor Flight. In addition to the pledges gathered by individual cadets, local businesses made monetary and raffle donations as well.

Cadet Adamson says taking on a project as difficult as the Bataan Death March Memorial Hike is worth the work, not just because it helps JROTC cadets remember the fallen, but because it also allows them honor the service people who came home by sending them on a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight to see their memorials in Washington D.C.

“(The Hike) is a way to do something for someone who, at just a few year older than me, was taken away from their homes to protect the freedoms that we have today. To me, we owe (veterans) so much more than what they received. (...) I feel very strongly about raising this money because I want the veterans to know that people still appreciate what they did for us as a nation all those years ago.”

The OH-881’s goal was to raise $4000 in order to send 10 veterans on an Honor Flight. As of this writing, the unit just reached its goal, but will continue to accept donations to send more vets on a Flight. Those wishing to contribute may contact the unit at 937-845-4464 or drop off funds at Tecumseh High School located at 9830 West National Rd., New Carlisle, OH 45344.

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