SPARTA, NJ- Sparta High School alumnus Jeremy Dericks is heading up a team of 11 Army ROTC cadets to compete in the Bataan Memorial Death March. The annual competition pits teams of ROTC cadets as well as other military personnel against each other and against the elements.
The race is marathon length, 26.2 miles, in two categories; carrying a backpack or ruck of 0-34 pounds called Light and 35 pounds plus called Heavy. It takes place in the high desert terrain of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on March 15, 2020.
The memorial march is in honor of the service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.
The team must raise the funds for transportation, room and meals as the Army does not provide support, except for a member of the Cadre to chaperone. They have set up a GoFundMe page, asking for support from family and friends.
“As college students, we would greatly appreciate any donation that can be made on our behalf,” Dericks said.
Dericks’ team is comprised of cadets in the Bison Battalion from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. They had approximately 20 people try out for a position on the team, representing the Bison Battalion for the first time at the endurance race.
This is not the first time Sparta will be represented at the Bataan Memorial Death March. Last year the winner of the ROTC Heavy category was Sparta High School graduate Sean Schock with a time of: 4 hours, 45 minutes and 57 seconds. Schock is a senior this year at Penn State University.
Editor's Note: The subject of this article is the author Jennifer Dericks' son.