The Air Force JROTC units from West Orange, Ocoee and Dr. Phillips high schools will participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March Dec. 16.
The march will begin at 8 a.m. at the West Orange Trail Killarney Station, 17914 State Road 438, Winter Garden. Cadets will march/walk 7.2 miles along the West Orange Trail through the city of Winter Garden. They will stop at 11 a.m. at the Chapin Station. where lunch will be provided by the Winter Garden Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW Post 4305) then march back the 7.2 miles back to Killarney.
The Battle of Bataan was fought between United States and Philippine forces against the Imperial Japanese Army from Jan. 7 through April 9, 1942. Their mission was to block or delay the Japanese advance in the Pacific Theater.
By the end of February, rice and flour had run out, and the Army was on a starvation diet. Besieged by the Japanese, the fighters also suffered from malnutrition, disease and fatigue.
However, they continued to fight against the superior force until it was no longer realistic with the condition of the troops. On April 9, 1942, American troops surrendered to the Japanese army in the largest surrender of American troops ever on a foreign land. Hoping for humane treatment, the Americans and Filipino were sorely disappointed as the Japanese guards tortured and killed between 7,000 to 10,000 American and Filipino men, who could not keep up the pace during the 65-mile march without adequate food or water.
“As we teach cadets about WWII, its important not only to memorize dates but (also) to try and gather some feeling of what it must have been like for those soldiers,” DPHS JROTC instructor Don Cantrell said. “Not hearing is not as good as hearing. Hearing is not as good as seeing. Seeing is not as good as knowing. Knowing is not as good as acting. Learning continues through action."