On Saturday, April 10th, ten ladies set out to complete the Bataan Death March through Cullman.

Lauren Estes, a Cullman local and workout enthusiast, explained why the ladies chose the Bataan Death March. “On April 9th, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces and were forced to march more than 60 miles in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died, and those who survived faced the hardships of prisoner of war camps.”

The ladies rucked twenty-six miles throughout Cullman County. They started in Cullman and made their way through Vinemont, Good Hope, and back to Cullman. Estes carried over thirty pounds on her back in honor of her grandfather, a marine, and passed away earlier this year. Some of the ladies chose to use weighted vests, but they all chose some of the county’s hilliest stretches of roads. Estes said, “the Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging and grueling march that tests both mental and physical abilities. For 2021, we were encouraged to choose a challenging stretch of road or trail in honor of the historical march. We decided to walk through two cities and town and back.”

Hallie Johnson, Heather Davis, Crystal Jones, Stacey Swindall Gardner, and Lauren Estes completed the entire twenty-six miles. Brandie Carter completed eleven miles while Lana Turley, Dena Harbison, Katie Holmes, and Kathryn Holmes finished just under five miles.

The Bataan Death March is not for the faint of heart. The grueling march is brutal, but to these ladies, they understand what our heroes that served our country and continue serving have sacrificed, and this march is to show their gratitude.

Estes thanked Cullman Police Officers Joey Duncan and Rod Banister for escorting the ladies throughout the march. Savannah Calvert from Meraki Boutique for having an aid station, Kathryn Holmes and Robin Netherton from Vinemont High School for the use of their field and water station, and the Sunflower Bakery for the use of their parking lot as an aid station.

Congratulations to all of these ladies. Your support of veterans, active military, police, and emergency responders will not go unnoticed. Thank you for sacrificing your day to ruck twenty-six miles to show your support.