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SHEEPDOG Leadership thought of the Month: "Remembering the Bataan Death March"

Updated: April 16, 2021

On April 9, 1942;

60,000 – 80,000 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.

Every year, at White Sands Missile range in New Mexico; they host a Memorial Bataan Death March where people can run, ruck, and honor the 80,000+ Bataan POWs/HEROES. The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging and grueling march that tests both mental and physical abilities. I had the honor of rucking in the memorial march in 2015 and 2016. I was humbled to meet these extraordinary POW survivors.

They are our GREATEST Generation.

Each survivor that was there at the march was shaking hands at the beginning of the event, and they were at the finish line until the last person finished. As I crossed the finish line in 2016, I met CMSgt Harold Bergbower. He has an incredible story and was a POW for 39 months. He said he weighed 78 pounds when he was finally released from capture in 1945.

Chief Bergbower passed away in November 2019, he was 99 years old.

Help me HONOR these HEROES and knock out 100 Memorial push-ups this weekend!

Written by YFFR Military Advisor CMSgt John “JC” Chacon

CMSgt John “JC” Chacon believes in the vision and mission of Yoga For First Responders, as it helps modern day “Warriors” and “Guardians” get through the darkest of times. Chief Chacon has served in the military for 25+ years and has deployed all around the globe, including a combat deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011; that is when he lost comrades that were killed in action. In 2014/2015, he battled with depression because of trying to cope with survivor’s remorse, and ever since then he has lived by the motto, “There are wolves, there are sheep, I am the SHEEPDOG!" JC lives to confront the wolf and protect the flock. The wolf comes in many forms, such as the enemy; however, the wolf is also disguised through depression and anxiety. JC is honored to serve with other Sheepdogs that have the courage to share their skills in mindfulness techniques through Yoga skills and meditation.

CMSgt Chacon is currently the Operations Chief for the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron at Kadena Air Base; Okinawa, Japan. Chief Chacon holds a Master of Science Degree in Leadership from Grand Canyon University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and 3 Associate in Applied Science Degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.

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