Alumnus John Markham Honors Bataan Heroes
Each year, ROTC students from the Prescott Campus make the journey to participate in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, N.M. Joining university representatives this year for the 23rd annual hike was John Markham (’96, PC), a member of the Board of Visitors for the Prescott Campus and an avid Embry-Riddle supporter.
The 26.2-mile march through the high desert terrain of the White Sands Missile Range honors and recognizes World War II veterans who defended the Philippine Islands and sacrificed their health and lives. It serves as a miniature re-enactment of sorts of April 9, 1942, when U.S. forces surrendered to the Japanese and more than 75,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war were forced to hike over 60 miles without food and water to Camp O’Donnell in the Tarlac province.
Markham, an electrical engineer by degree and currently senior manager of programs at Cobham Aerospace and member of the Prescott Alumni Chapter, marched in honor of Sgt. First Class Clarence G. Zealor, a Bataan survivor and the deceased father of Mary Zealor Mallory, a Prescott Valley resident.
“The hike and terrain were painful and at times I wanted to quit, but it is nothing compared to what the Bataan soldiers, who went to hell and back, endured. They were my motivation and it was great to hike in the memory of Mary’s father and to shake hands with the current survivors,” Markham said.
Bill Thompson (’87, PC), director of Alumni Relations – Prescott, said Markham’s positive attitude was contagious. He carried a 42-pound backpack the whole way and at the end of the long trek in the heavy division category his smile was still intact, said Thompson, who participated in honor march and is pictured with Markham at left.
Markham said he relied on his Army Ranger training when things started getting difficult, and forced himself to continue to the finish line.
The opening ceremony at the event included a cannon firing for each Bataan Survivor that has passed away since last year’s Memorial March. It was a sobering and somber experience for all those in attendance, Markham said. “I met many interesting people along the way and was inspired by seeing our wounded warriors giving it their all.”