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Minot members ruck
Airman 1st Class Conner Gallagher, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron missile response force member, takes a break during ruck march training at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Feb. 12, 2016. Airman is one of many 91st SFG Airmen participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March Ruck, which will take place at Whtie Sands Misile Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Sullivan)
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Minot 91st Security Forces Group members train to march in the Bataan Memorial Death March

Posted 3/8/2016   Updated 3/8/2016 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Christian Sullivan
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/8/2016 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members from the 91st Security Forces Group are training to take participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March which takes place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, March 20, 2016.

Members began tryouts in October and resumed their training after the holiday break to prepare for the challenge before them.

"We had over 60 people interested, but due to manning accommodations we had to limit the amount to 20," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Koritar, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron security manager. "So far we've trained a couple hundred miles and we still have another 300 miles to go and a couple of additional muscle exhaustion training to prepare us for this vigorous event."

The march is a challenging ruck through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range, conducted in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health and, in many cases, their very lives.

The event tests participants physically and mentally as they trek almost 30 miles with a 35 pound ruck on their back, which also doubles as a humanitarian effort.

"We're doing a canned food drive, which is part of the event," said Koritar. "We'll be rucking with 35 pounds each of canned foods plus all of our other gear. Last year the food drive produced over 17,000 meals."

The group that Koritar is taking to White Sands is a diverse mix, including someone that takes a personal piece from the event because of his Filipino ancestry.

"My grandfather was in World War II in the Pacific, my wife's grandfather also fought in the Philippines against the Japanese," said Richard Vasquez, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron member. "It's personal to me."

Airman 1st Class Conner Gallagher, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron member, goes into detail about the training regimen.

"For training, we've been going on distance rucks and free weight lifting, a lot of core work," Gallagher said. "We're slowly pacing ourselves to get more distance on our rucks."

Although training for the ruck consists about 6 months, Gallagher thinks another factor will make the actual Bataan March more difficult.

"It's going to be a huge climate change," Gallagher said. "Going from 10 degree weather to 80 degree weather will be tough."

Airman First Class Jessica Beauchamp, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron member, decided to participate to meet some of her own personal goals.

"I want to better myself and strengthen my endurance," Beauchamp said. "I want to accomplish something that I've never accomplished before."

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