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VFW Magazine June/July 2017 : Page 33

Team VFW trekked the desert and mountains of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range on March 19 for the 28th annual Bataan Memorial Death March. From le: Andrew Duffy, Director of VFW Programs Lynn Rolf, VFW Post 5579 member Nate Anderson, VFW Commander-in-Chief Brian Duffy, VFW Post 5579 member Paul Turner, VFW Assistant Quartermaster General John Muckelbauer and his daughter, Emily. For the seventh year, VFW was a presenting sponsor. Additionally, the organization was well-represented by Team VFW. VFW Commander-in-Chief Brian Duffy, his son, Andrew; Director of VFW Programs Lynn Rolf; Assistant Quartermaster General John Muckelbauer, his daughter Emily; and Paul Turner and Nate Anderson, of Post 5579 in Gibbstown, N.J., made up the team. “Our participation in the memorial march was such a humbling way to pay tribute to those who survived in the harshest of conditions and under such brutality, as well as to all those who per-ished,” Duffy said. “One of the found-ing tenets of the VFW is our promise to never forget America’s heroes or the price they pay for our freedom. This event gave us that opportunity.” VFW was represented elsewhere along the route as Team VFW came to realize. Two ROTC units were sponsored by Post 7591 in Madison, Wis., while Post 10789 also had a team. Scott Rowson rep-resented Post 12124 in Meridian, Miss. The Department of New Mexico recruit-ed 105 members into VFW’s ranks dur-ing the event. This year’s marathon saw more than 27,500 pounds of food donated by par-ticipants. The food was delivered to area food banks. April 9 marked the anniversary of the Bataan Death March, when the Japanese army forced some 80,000 American and Filipino troops to march in brutal condi-tions 65 miles up the Bataan Peninsula. Some 650 Americans died during the march, while nearly 10,000 Filipinos died. While less than 60 survivors of the 1942 march are still alive, seven attend-ed the memorial march. Among them, 99-year-old Ben Skardon who completed an 8.5-mile portion of the race. This was PHOTO BY KIM MUCKELBAUER the 10th year in a row Skardon and his supporters, known as “Ben’s Brigade,” participated. “It was the most challenging and, by far, the greatest run I have ever partici-pated in,” Muckelbauer said. “The oppor-tunity to meet survivors of the Death March, coupled with all of the amazing volunteers, was really humbling.” New Mexico is the site of the memo-rial march because it contributed more troops to the Bataan defense effort — more than 1,800 — than any other state. Only 900 men returned home to New Mexico after the war’s end. -EMAIL jdyhouse@vfw.org PHOTO BY TARA RUBY MEMORIAL MARCH BY THE NUMBERS 12,000 water cups handed out 1,200 volunteers 750 150 pounds of pasta gallons of marinara sauce cooked cases of oranges cases of bananas distributed VFW Commander-in-Chief Brian Duffy receives encouragement as he carries the U.S. flag during the 28th annual Bataan Memorial Death March on March 19 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. 348.5 TOTAL POUNDS VFW was a presenting sponsor for the OF FISH CAUGHT seventh year. JUNE/JULY 2017 • WWW.VFW.ORG • 120 15 33

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