Home News Local News RPD officer organizes local Bataan march

RPD officer organizes local Bataan march

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Roswell Police Department Lt. Alberto Aldana, right, and his wife, Yvonne, pose for a photo April 17 on the route of the 14.2-mile Bataan Memorial Death March he organized in Roswell. (Submitted Photo)

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A Roswell Police Department officer, wanting to offer something for the community in the pandemic, recently organized a local event for the Bataan Memorial Death March.

The march is conducted by the U.S. Army at the White Sands Missile Range. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 march was cancelled and this year’s event was conducted virtually.

The event commemorates the April 1942 forced 60-mile march of about 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers after they surrendered to Japanese forces after months of fighting on the Bataan peninsula with little support. Thousands died on the march and in Japanese prisoner of war camps.

The memorial march at White Sands through the desert is designed to offer a physical and mental challenge to participants to honor the memory of those soldiers, according to the march’s official website.

This year, participants could select a day and route and register online.

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RPD Lt. Alberto Aldana had participated in the White Sands march once before and, since it wasn’t being held there this year, decided to organize a local event.

“I figured we could do it here in town, so let’s do something physical since we’ve been cooped up in the last year,” he said.

Aldana, a veteran himself, said he wasn’t aware of the history behind the march until he took part in it. Aldana served a tour of duty in Iraq and continues to serve in the Army Reserves.

“It was a good learning experience because I didn’t know there were people from New Mexico that were in the actual march,” he said.

About 25 people showed up at 5 a.m. on April 17 at Cahoon Park for the 14.2-mile trek.

“I thought there would be a lot less. I didn’t think anybody was going to be willing to do the 14 miles. It’s kind of a long way to do on a spur of the moment,” he said.

Participants could register on the march’s official website if they chose, but it wasn’t required.

From Cahoon Park, participants followed Spring River Trail to Enchanted Lands Park, then south to Second Street, where they continued west about 5 miles to a turn-around point.

This wasn’t the first long-distance run Aldana has organized. He also helped put together a run in February honoring New Mexico State Police Officer Darian Jarrott, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Deming. He’s also participated in five other long-distance runs, he said.

Aldana said others in the community helped with the Bataan Memorial. He credited Juliana Halvorson, vice president of marketing for Pioneer Bank, with organizing the event, and bank employees who volunteered to help.

The New Mexico Mounted Patrol and NMSP Search and Rescue also assisted, he said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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