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Bataan Death March survivor, 97, finishes 8.5-mile memorial march

Bataan Death March survivor, Col. Ben Skardon, 97, from Clemson, S.C., crosses the finish line for the eighth time during the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 22, 2015. Skardon marched 8.5 miles flanked by more than thirty supporters from "Ben's Brigade," friends and family who have marched with Skardon the past eight years and wear Clemson University Orange, Skardon's Alma Mater.

MARCUS FICHTL/US ARMY

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 24, 2015

For the eighth time, Bataan Death March survivor Col. Ben Skardon finished his 8.5-mile memorial trek through a course at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

Skardon, 97, was flanked by more than thirty supporters from "Ben's Brigade," a group of friends and family who have marched with him in past memorial marches. They wore Clemson University orange in honor of Skardon's alma mater. 

At one point, Skardon showed off his class ring from 1938, which he kept hidden from his Japanese captors. The infamous march saw tens of thousands American and Filipino soldiers taken as prisoners of war by Japanese forces in World War II. On April 9, 1942, the prisoners were forced to march for days through scorching heat and jungles. Hundreds - if not thousands - of prisoners died on the way to their final destination, Camp O'Donnell. The exact number is unknown. 

After the war, Japanese commander Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu was held responsible for the march and tried in Manila during January and February 1946. He was executed for war crimes in April of that year.

Skardon was greeted at the end of the march by Uuli Dunn. Dunn, whose husband designed the White Sands course, has greeted Skardon at the end of all eight marches. 

news@stripes.com

Bataan Death March survivor, Col. Ben Skardon, 97, from Clemson, S.C., marches for the eighth time during the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 22, 2015. Skardon marched 8.5 miles flanked by more than thirty supporters from "Ben's Brigade," friends and family who have marched with Skardon the past eight years and wear Clemson University Orange, Skardon's Alma Mater.
MARCUS FICHTL/US ARMY

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