Posted 9 months ago
By John Axtell
The 11 students enrolled in the Survey of American Military History course at Chadron State College that’s focused on WWII in the Philippines and especially the Bataan Death March have created exhibits on what they’ve learned that will be on display through the summer in the lower level of Crites Hall.
The students are hosting a reception to unveil the displays this afternoon from 2-to-4 in Crites Hall, and will be on hand to answer questions about WWII, the Battle of Bataan, or the Death March.
In conjunction with that, they’re hosting a showing in the Mari Sandoz Center tonight at 7:00 of the 1943 film “So Proudly We Hail”… based on the true accounts of the nurses who served in Bataan…and will lead a brief discussion period on the film and Bataan.
The surrender of some 15,000 U-S and 70,000 Filipino troops in Bataan to the Japanese early in WWII after 6 weeks of fighting with little food or weapons was was the largest surrender in American and Filipino military history, and the largest surrender of U-S Army troops since the Battle of Harper’s Ferry in the Civil War.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 of them died or were killed by the captors on a grueling 80-mile, 3 day march to a prison camp. Many more died in captivity before being freed after the Allied invasion of the Philipines in early 1945.
The Chadron State students took part earlier this month in the 24th annual Bataan Memorial Death March, begun to keep alive the memory of the sacrifices of those soldiers, and will talk their experiences with the event during this afternoon’s reception
All 11 students and their instructors…1st Lt Franklin Annis and Sandoz Center Director Sarah Polak…took part in the march, which drew over 5,000 participants from around the world to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico…
Polak and 2 of the students completed the Memorial March’s shorter 15.1-mile course carrying packs weighing less than 35 pounds while Annis and the other 9 students did the long 26.2-mile route with packs of at least 35-pounds.
Polak says the march…whether the longer or shorter course…was “was both a physical and mental challenge for all who participated,” and that she’s proud to say the entire CSC contingent finished and with no serious injuries.
The group did suffer one significant loss en route to New Mexico. Lt Annis’s pickup was totaled when it hit a deer on Highway 385 just outside Alliance. No one was hurt and the group was able to get a replacement vehicle from Chadron and continue on with only about a 3-hour delay.