Marching to remember Bataan

Plenty of runners can handle a brisk little 5K to raise money for charity.

How many would tackle a 26-mile slog through the desert with a 35-pound pack on their back?

Thousands of soldiers and civilians accepted the challenge this week by completing the Bataan Memorial Death March on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.


Participants march along a trail during the Bataan Memorial Death March in 2007. (Photo from

Among this year’s marchers was Army Sgt. Nicholas Ranstad, a native of Battle Lake, Minn. The Fergus Falls Daily Journal profiled Ranstad today.

Ranstad and a team that included four other soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., completed the march Sunday in 8 hours 24 minutes. Team members had to finish within 20 seconds of each other.

The event commemorates the suffering and lives lost in 1942 as Japanese troops forced American and Filipino prisoners to march through the Philippines. Death estimates range from 6,000 to 21,000.

An Army ROTC unit at New Mexico State University launched the memorial march in 1989, with about 100 soldiers taking part that first year. More than 5,000 soldiers and civilians now complete the event each year. There are a number of events now, including the 26-mile course and a 15-mile march.

Ranstad made a name for himself in Afghanistan with an incredible sniper shot. The Daily Journal notes that he holds the U.S. Army record for the longest confirmed sniper kill — a 1.3-mile shot. The world record for a confirmed-kill sniper shot is 1.5 miles, set in 2002 by a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.


U.S. Army Spc. Nicholas Ranstad (right) during a military exercise at U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels, Germany, on Nov. 6, 2008. (U.S. Department of Defense photo from Visual Intel)

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