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Wyoming’s Cowboy Battalion repeats top finish at Bataan

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Cadets and cadre from the University of Wyoming's Cowboy Battalion trained for three months at 7,200 feet above sea level for the grueling Bataan Memorial Death March. (Courtesy Photo)

Cadets and cadre from the University of Wyoming's Cowboy Battalion trained for three months at 7,200 feet above sea level for the grueling Bataan Memorial Death March. (Courtesy Photo)

by Furman “Neil” Neeley
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

LARAMIE, Wyo. — For the second year in a row the Cowboy Battalion at the University of Wyoming finished atop the standings in the Bataan Memorial Death March, held annually in White Sands Missile Range, N.M., placing first in the ROTC Military Heavy Team Division, finishing in six hours and 13 min.

The 16 UW Cadets participated in one of the most difficult races in the United States, according to Lt. Col. Brenton Reinhardt, professor of military science at the university.


“The is designed to be difficult and requires mental and physical fortitude,” Reinhardt said. “Our cadets trained rigorously for three months prior to this event.”

Led by Casey Dschaak, a Cadet who recently was commissioned as a second lieutenant, the Cadets trained six days a week, starting well before most people in Laramie even woke up, piling up more than 260 miles at an elevation that exceeds 7,200 feet.

The race is put on by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division at White Sands Missile Range. It is held in honor of the thousands of American and Philippine soldiers who were force marched a deadly 90 miles in April 1942 following the fall of the Philippines.

“The race is not about winning,” Reinhardt explained, “although that’s the fun part. It’s really a great event as a tribute to World War II veterans.”

Reinhardt said the Cadets would admit that the race is inconsequential, and that the real treat is meeting the vets. Vets who marched the 90 miles on that Pacific atoll are on hand to tell their stories at the outset of the race and they show up at intervals along the course to cheer on the participants in the memorial.

“They’re so modest when they tell their stories and you are truly amazed,” Reinhardt said.

The veterans are at the starting line early on the morning of the race.

“You kind of high-five as you are about ready to cross the starting line,” he said. “Nobody’s in a hurry to start, because they’d rather get a hug from a World War II veteran.”

“Once you cross the starting line, you’re thinking you can run forever because you’re so pumped on adrenalin. Of course the adrenalin wears off after a few miles. That’s where the organizers employ a brilliant strategy to encourage the marchers to go on.

“They load the veterans up in vans and drop them at strategic points along the course,” said Reinhardt. “Just when you want to quit, you run up on a hill, and you’re wondering, ‘How did this guy in a walker get out here in the middle of the desert?’ and now he’s giving you a high-five and telling you, ‘C’mon son, keep running!’”

The cadets trained in several different categories. The Military Heavy Division requires participants to wear the Army Combat Uniform, combat boots, and carry a rucksack that must weigh at least 35 pounds.

In addition to the five-man Heavy team, five Cadets ran the course individually with a rucksack and five ran the course in the Military Light Division, wearing a camelback.

For the returning Cadets, the course was still as tough as they remembered.

“You remember every hill, turn, and obstacle,” said Benjamin Nemec, a Cadet who recently commissioned as a second lieutenant. “You know that it only gets worse. It was not any easier for the new cadets. One cadet said, ‘Nothing but the actual race could have prepared me for this. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.’”

Reinhardt said the Cowboys already have our eyes set on March 2010 and expect to win again the race in their divisions again.

“We will to continue to use our elevation here in Laramie, at 7,200 feet, to our training advantage.”

This year’s team included Cadets Logan Dannemiller, Dustin Wambach, Geoffrey Dean, Casey Dschaak, and Benjamin Nemec. Cadet Luke Meyer finished first in his age group in the Military Heavy Division. Cadets Katie Cranmer and Rowdy Fichtner finished first in their age group for the Military Light Division.

Overall, Wyoming took first place in four categories. The others who ran in the Heavy Division were: Cadets Christopher Kaiser, Levi Coulter, Zebulun Coulter, and Bryan Radkey; and Master Sgt. Mathew Origer.

The other Light Division participants were: Cadets Abner Gonzalez, Cheyenne Walsh, and James Vaughan; and Capt. Dean Hunhoff.

Registration for the next race, scheduled for March 21, 2010, opens in November. For more information about the event, surf to http://www.bataanmarch.com/.

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Written by CadetCommandPAO

May 13, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Posted in News

Tagged with ,

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