NASIC personnel honor Bataan Death March POWs with commemorative ruck at Wright-Patt

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristof J. Rixmann
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center Public Affairs

More than 30 civilian and military personnel from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center participated in a local Bataan Memorial Death March in Beavercreek, Ohio, April 14, 2023.

The event commemorates the Bataan Death March of April 1942, where a combined 10,000 Americans and Filipinos died during a 65-mile forced march from their point of surrender to a Prisoner of War camp in April 1942 during World War II.

To honor these POWs, the first iteration of the Bataan Memorial Death March ruck started at New Mexico State University in 1989, with the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Department sponsoring the event. As an annual commemorative event, the marathon in New Mexico now draws over 6,000 participants per year.

In the fall of 2022, Tech. Sgt. Kyle Townshend, NASIC Signals Analysis Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge, arrived at Wright-Patterson AFB. One of the things he knew he wanted to do was to start his iteration of the commemorative ruck here in Ohio.

Originally, Townshend planned on holding the event for his squadron, but his leadership challenged him to get more people involved. So, with the help of Senior Airman Nathaniel Tillman, also a member of the Signals Analysis Squadron, Townshend soon opened the event to everyone in NASIC.

“Bottom line, I would go do this event if it were just me or with 1000 people,” said Townshend. “I fundamentally believe that doing difficult things is an important part of the military experience.”

Townshend said he also believes nothing builds better trust and comradery than shared hardship.

“I believe the best way we can honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice is to be a better military,” he said.  “My little contribution is to do something physically challenging, where people come together as a team.”