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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Local resident marches to honor POWs

  • When K.C. Frahm arrived at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for the Bataan Memorial Death March earlier this spring, her mission was two-fold.
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  • When K.C. Frahm arrived at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for the Bataan Memorial Death March earlier this spring, her mission was two-fold.
    She came to honor her grandfathers who served in World War II and her great-grandfather who served in the U.S. Navy.
    "I carried their original dog tags and Navy pin in honor of both of them," said Frahm who is a local resident and announcer at radio station KMST on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus.
    She also chose to do the march to challenge herself physically.
    "I decided about a year and a half ago that it was time to get healthy and build a new lifestyle. I lost a significant amount of weight but also became much more active," she said.
    She said she started to train for the event around the first of the year, working with a personal trainer at The Centre, Matt Whittingham.
    "He is former military and would put me through the ringer twice a week for training. We did everything from strength and endurance training, to running around the track carrying the weight on my back." Frahm explained.
    This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Bataan Memorial Death March.
    In April of 1942 during the height of World War II, American and Filipino troops were overcome by Japanese troops while defending the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. They were forced to surrender.
    The Japanese rounded up all the surrendered soldiers and gathered them into groups of 100. They lined the men up four abreast, and they began marching them north toward Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac Province, 65 miles away.
    The Japanese guards shot or bayoneted any man who fell, attempted to escape or stopped to drink at a roadside spigot or puddle. The men were given little water or food for the entire length of the Bataan Death March, which took about five days for each group to complete. It is believed the between 7,000 and 10,000 men  were killed on the Death March.
    Close to 7,000 hikers participated in this year's memorial march. At the opening ceremonies, Frahm had the chance to meet a survivor of the march.
    "I got to shake hands with a Bataan survivor. There are very few of them left. They are all in their 90s. It was a very humbling experience to meet him and thank him for his service," she shared.
    According to Frahm, there are multiple routes that hikers can take. She chose the most difficult one which was a full marathon (26.2 miles) in which she carried a 45-pound backpack.
    "My pack was fairly simple. When you are carrying a large amount of weight for a significant distance, it’s important to carry the weight as high as you can on your back. That way you won’t put strain on your lower back. My pack was primarily made up of weight plates, the kind you would use on a bench press." she explained. "I had them strapped in very tightly to the top of my pack. Also included were hike necessities such as extra socks, first aid for our feet, food to last throughout the day and most importantly water."
    Page 2 of 2 - It was around mile 20 that she said that the pain got excruciating. It was then that she thought of the prisoners of war (POWs) who didn't have the opportunity to stop and change socks or take a drink of water.
    Frahm worked through the pain and reach the finish line close to 10 hours after she began.
    "It was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done physically, but also the most rewarding. As I crossed the finish line, tears were streaming down my face but the fact is I had actually finished a marathon and achieved one of my life goals."
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