By Alexandra Purcell
Coming up on Oct. 7, 2017, Colorado State University-Pueblo’s chapter of Student Veterans of America will host the inaugural Bataan Memorial March.
The event is set to start at precisely 9:04 a.m. in front of the fountain at the center of campus. The gates will open at 7 a.m. Entrants are asked to pay $25 for a single person or $100 for a team of five. All proceeds will benefit the CSU-Pueblo SVA Scholarship Fund.
“We’re inviting the entire United States,” said Greg York, board member for SVA.
Entrants will receive incentives for participation, York said. This includes free football tickets to the upcoming Homecoming game, a free mug and other freebies.
EJ Snyder, a highly decorated Army combat veteran known for his three appearances on the TV show “Naked and Afraid,” will serve as the event’s grand marshal. “He told me the other night on the phone he’s actually going to march in the event with a team,” York said.
Snyder is scheduled to give a talk at Hoag Hall the day before the march, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Topics covered will be leadership and a question and answer session with the audience. Entrance to this event is free for CSU-Pueblo students. Other guests will be charged $10 at the door.
Brue’s Alehouse in downtown Pueblo will be hosting a brunch with Snyder, York said. The fee will be $50 for all participants and must be turned in by Oct. 4.
Aside from raising money for the SVA scholarship fund, the purpose of the march is to commemorate the US surrender of the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 US and Filipino troops were captured by Japanese forces. They were forced to walk 65 miles to prison camps in harsh conditions according to the History Channel.
The original plan for CSU-Pueblo’s Memorial March was to begin at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and walk to Pueblo. This would honor the actual distance American prisoners of war were forced to march during WWII in the Philippines, but York said recent flooding “wrecked” most of the trails that would have made it possible.
The SVA decided to hold the march on the CSU-Pueblo campus. Instead of marching approximately 65 miles, it will cover 5 kilometers, or 13.1 miles.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to see our campus for what it really is,” York said.
James Edwards, president of the SVA, said he wants to encourage student organizations on campus to consider entering teams in the march.