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On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino Soldiers were forced to surrender to Japanese forces.
As the temperature rose, members of Ben’s Brigade took turns holding an American flag at angles that would shade him.
He moved at his normal pace of two miles an hour, but stopped to rest or talk to people several times between each mile marker – something he hadn’t done in years past. Ben Skardon, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, speaks to members of “Ben’s Brigade” – a group of friends, family, former Clemson University students of his, and relatives of his fellow prisoners of war who accompany him.
Spirits rose as they reached one mile marker after another, but there was concern he might not make it the whole way this year. At mile marker six, he left the road to sit on a folding chair and rest in the shade of one of the support tents.
He had just recovered from a bout of the flu weeks earlier, and the temperatures were ten degrees hotter than in previous years. The members of Ben’s Brigade, themselves sweaty and tired at this point, gratefully accepted water and gatorade from the volunteers who had waited for them.
It would take nothing away from him if he couldn’t go his traditional 8.5 miles again – if he only walked a mile it would still be an astounding feat – but nobody could question the power of his will either. Somebody put a wet handkerchief around Skardon’s neck and handed him an orange slice to suck on. At mile marker eight, Ben’s Brigade gathered around him one more time. “What I want to say is thank you, and if I haven’t already shaken hands with you, please shake my hand after this.