Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

DU Army ROTC cadets march a marathon in the desert

Most freshmen at the University of Denver have never marched 26.2 miles in the desert with 35-pound rucksacks on their backs.

Jamie Crownover and Michael Burnet have. Both are members of DU’s Army ROTC program and recently traveled to White Sands, N.M., to take part in the Bataan Memorial Death March.

“It was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things that I have ever done,” Burnet says.

The Bataan Memorial Death March commemorates the thousands of American and Filipino soldiers who were forced to march for days in the scorching heat of Philippine jungles after being taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II.

“I have gained a greater appreciation for those who struggled for survival on those fateful days, and those servicemen and women who now serve at home and abroad,” says Burnet. “The fallen soldiers and veterans that participated in the real march were subject to worse atrocities than a hot day and aching feet.”

Crownover, 19, and Burnet, 18, joined 11 cadets and four cadres (the title given to a ROTC training leader) from universities around Colorado in the event. Nearly 5,300 people — military and civilian— participated in the event.

“I will do it again next year,” says Crownover. “I learned that ‘rucking’ a marathon is a lot harder than it sounds and it sounds pretty hard.”
Seven DU students participate in the ROTC program, meeting at Denver’s Auraria campus at 6 a.m. three times a week for physical training. They attend military science classes at Metro State University twice weekly. DU ROTC cadets also attend regular training exercises in the field once a semester at Jacks Valley near Carson City, Nev., where they do three days of field training.

ROTC students also participate in extracurricular activities such as the Army ROTC running club and an annual military ball. Cadets in the running club attend various races and marathons throughout the school year, including the Bataan Memorial Death March.

The Army ROTC program also offers opportunity for the future. Crownover will serve four years of active duty in the Army and four years in the reserves after graduation, though he hasn’t decided which branch of the armed forces he will join. Burnet also plans to serve in the Army, but is not certain what job he wants to pursue in the service.

“It is a job that I have found to be very much in accordance with my personality and lifestyle,” Burnet says.

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