Moody, local law enforcement partner for annual Bataan Death March

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

In April of 1942, 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were forced to march by the Imperial Japanese Army through streets of the Philippines while being subjecte­d to brutal treatment in what has become known as one of the many tragedies of World War II – the Bataan Death March.  ­­


The conditions of the march were heart-breaking, and thousands died from beatings, exposure and executions. For many who made it to the final leg of the journey in train cars for transport to prison camps, death would follow due to the unbearable heat and pervasive illness.


In honor of their tenacity in the face of unfathomable cruelty, service members from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, partnered with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for the third annual memorial Bataan Death March, April 8, 2023, to march 66 miles with various obstacle courses, representing the miles that American and Filipino POWs had to endure.


“Knowing what they had to go through and what they saw happen to their friends is very humbling,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Jester, 23rd Security Forces Squadron training ­manager. “We did every challenge along the way including 40-meter hill climbs, hex bar relays, cinder block relays, push-ups, tire flips and tire pulls.”


The march honors the memory of those who died, and the obstacle courses are a reminder of the physical challenges and hardships endured by the POWs in captivity. It is a physically difficult event, and it gives the base and local community a way to honor those soldiers and civilians.


“Each year we draw from a wide variety of participants, from all walks of life and each community in our area,” said LCSO Lt. Rob Picciotti, Special Operations Division. “These marches are a way of memorializing the significance of the capture of American and Filipino soldiers.”


Events like these present an opportunity for Moody and the local community to gather for memorial events as more than just professionals, but as people outside of the uniform.


“Being able to build a relationship with Lt. Picciotti and the rest of his team at LCSO has served our Airmen in every aspect of training as well as putting into perspective the real-world responses that we might have to encounter,” Jester said. “These marches are one of my favorite times of the year because it truly brings people together like no other event.”


Uniting and educating participants is a common goal of memorial events like these. There are monuments dedicated to the Bataan Death March across the United States and the Philippines, and thousands of memorial marches designed to be challenging in hopes the memory will remain of what the POWs endured.