By John Larson
SOCORRO - The 22nd Annual Bataan Memorial Death March Sunday, Mar. 21, at White Sands Missile Range saw two local law enforcement officers taking part - Socorro County Chief Deputy Shorty Vaiza and Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley.
Vaiza, along with Team "NM Justice" ran the marathon through the desert terrain, up hills, around mountains and through a “seemingly endless sandpit” for 26.2 miles.
Team "NM Justice" crossed the finish line with an overall time of 7:23:38 and in seventh place in their division.
“We started this together, we finished this together.” Vaiza said. “Not only was our participation self-fulfilling, but we paid homage to the heroic soldiers that were responsible for the defense of the Islands of Luzon, Corregidor, and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines.”
Cearley participated with his family, who walked the 26 miles.
“We’ve been going for the last six years,” Cearley said. “Sarah’s family, the Berg family, too. We all go down and walk the whole 26 miles each year, all to support, and show our respect for those who fought for our country and sacrificed so much.”
He said 5,704 people participated in the memorial, and a total of 15,000 were at the gathering.
“They come from as far away as Brazil, Canada, Chile, all over,” Cearley said.
Other local participants included cadets from Socorro’s Civil Air Patrol, who helped direct traffic and parking.
Pictured: Team "NM Justice" (from left): Daniel Henry, Juvenile Probation Parole Officer; Cesar Polanco, Supervisor, US Federal Probation Office; Shorty Vaiza, Chief Deputy, Socorro County Sheriff's Department; Zachary Gerleve, Adult Probation Parole Officer; and, Hilario J. Bernal, Juvenile Probation Parole Officer. Photo courtesy of Shorty Vaiza
Photo courtesy of Shorty Vaiza