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SMDC represented in 28th Bataan Memorial Death March

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - Capt. Lacey Dean, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, shows her enthusiasm at mile seven of the 28th Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 19. (Courtesy Photo)

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - Capt. Lacey Dean, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, shows her enthusiasm at mile seven of the 28th Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., March 19. (Courtesy Photo)

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- To commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II's infamous 65-mile Bataan Death March, more than 7,000 people gathered at White Sands Missile Range March 19 to participate in the 28th Bataan Memorial Death March.

Capt. Lacey Dean, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and her husband Brian Burek were among the participants who took on the 26.2-mile course through the high desert terrain. The annual march is in honor of the heroic Servicemembers who defended the Philippine Islands during WWII, sacrificing their freedom, health and, in many cases, their very lives.

Dean said there were seven survivors at the march who seemed very happy to share their stories. And that one of the survivors, 99-year-old Ben Skardon, even walked eight and a half miles of the course.

"Seeing that was very motivating," Dean said. "Even with the blisters, high heat index and harsh terrain, I'm really glad I did this. Walking 26 miles is nothing in the states where you get to go home afterwards. My husband and I went to the spa the next day. They went to POW camps."

Another part of the march included contributing a unit coin to the Bataan Memorial Death March section of the White Sands Missile Range Museum.

"It was nice to have SMDC's coin there," said Dean. "For the 28 years that they have been doing this event, they have unit coins represented in the museum of Servicemembers who have come and marched representing their units for each of those years. These coins will be preserved at the museum forever."

Overall, Dean said this was an incredible experience. "I think that everyone, especially those in the military, should go out and experience this event. Everyone there starts tearing up at some point. To be able to have solidarity with our brothers and sisters in arms was pretty cool."

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