On March 27, 2011 two teams from Robert Land Academy (RLA) took part in the challenging 26.2 mile (42 kilometre) Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico USA. This year marks the 22nd year the event has been held and the 4th year that Robert Land Academy has entered teams.Conducted on the high desert terrain of the White Sands Missile Range this annual event honours the tens of thousands of heroic United States service members who defended the islands of Luzon, Corregidor, and the harbour defence forts of the Philippines during World War II and who were later surrendered to Japanese forces in April 1942. During the Bataan Death March of nearly 70 years ago, these prisoners of war were marched for days in the scorching heat of the Philippine jungles. Thousands died, and those who survived faced hardships in Japanese POW camps. In this year’s memorial march, over 6,000 marchers and runners from all 50 of the United States and 12 other countries (including Canada) took part. Participants enter either as individuals or as teams in the military division, ROTC/JROTC division, or the non-military division. It is mostly a military event, however many civilians choose to take the challenge also. Training and selection for of the team from Robert Land Academy started near the end of November. Throughout the selection process students competed for the eight positions by demonstrating their level of physical fitness, endurance, and devotion to the Academy’s five values of Loyalty, Labour, Courage, Commitment and Honour. Both RLA teams (each consisting of four students and one member from the staff) completed the march in record time, smashing records held by the previous years’ Academy teams. Competing in the JROTC division the two Academy teams finished with times of 6 hours 36 minutes and 7 hours 34 minutes, for a sixth place and seventh place finish respectively. Master Sergeant Eric Giles of the New Mexico National Guard commented, ”We were so impressed with (RLA staff) and all the cadets not only during the march but the entire week you were here. I feel so honored and humble to be around the staff and cadets it’s hard to express. I want the school to know that all of you did an amazing job and showed unbelievable determination and heart. You and your staff have done a great job with these kids. Soldiers here are still talking about how polite, well-mannered, and tough they are. Know that you are making a difference and I feel blessed to know you and the cadets of the Robert Land Academy.” While in New Mexico the RLA teams benefited from having a few days before the march to become acclimatized to the nearly 1,500 meter higher elevation. The boys also enjoyed learning about some of the local history of New Mexico including a visit to San Miguel Mission Church in Santa Fe, Albuquerque’s Historic Old Town, the State Capitol Building and a tour of the old Santa Fe prison. RLA’s Founder and Headmaster Lieutenant Colonel Scott Bowman offered his congratulations to the members of the two Academy teams. “I am extremely proud of how these young men represented themselves and the Academy. The comments by Master Sergeant Giles, as well as those from many others who have contacted me since the march, emphasize just how well respected our boys are internationally. This sense of pride is also felt by each and every member of the faculty and cadet body of Robert Land Academy.” He also said that Robert Land Academy looks forward to entering teams in this event for many years to come. Robert Land Academy is a private all boys military boarding school that motivates its students for excellence in mind, body and spirit. It is located in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada.
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