Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To Die A Thousand Deaths

Dr. Ralph Emerson Hibbs

Dr. Ralph Emerson Hibbs had succumbed to malaria. The disease that he had seen a thousand times on Bataan had now ravaged his malnourished body. Laying in a ditch, delirious with chills, the attack came over him suddenly. The Plasmodium vivax “bursting forth from his liver and into his bloodstream.” There was nothing he could do to treat himself….at the end of the first week in April 1992, quinine had all been used up to treat the

other thousands of cases of malaria that had run rampant through the U.S. Soldiers. Dr. Hibbs was serving as the 2nd Battalion of the 31st Infantry Regiment surgeon.

The attack on the the Philippines began the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack, December 8, 1941…due to the international date line the calendar shows them to be on different days. By Christmas 1942, Washington had already deemed Bataan as a lost cause and soon President Roosevelt demanded that the Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur to withdraw…and he did…to Australia. Feeling the neglect, the soldiers would chant:

We’re the battling bastards of Bataan,

No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam

No aunts, no uncles, no nephews,no nieces,

No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces,

…and nobody gives a damn.

For 4 months the battle raged on Bataan. Bullets and bombs did little to the American G.I.’s compared to disease and starvation. The soldiers would catch dogs, cats, monkeys, slugs, rats…anything to eat. The locals taught them how to prepare hound haggis. Hibbs recalled, “It was a custom to eat the stomach of a dog that had been gorged with rice before sacrificing it. The warm rice mixed with the mucus of the stomach was supposedly a delicacy." If the war didn’t kill you, disease would. As many as 24,000 warriors were crowed into field hospitals.

It’s hard to fathom a tropical, humid, disease ridden jungle when it’s 11 degrees outside. Yet at 0615 on this past Saturday, that’s what the most recent cold front offered North Texas. I had never run in temperatures that cold…never. There are a lot of reasons I love living in Texas….and being a warm climate is at the top of that list. Knowing time is of the essence, I had no choice but to breach the cold temperature in the darkness. The first 6 miles were sans pack. I do this to get the miles in while at the same time being able to adjust to running with a pack. I was to run 15 miles total, with the last 9 being with a pack. Throw another 5 mile pack run in on Sunday morning. My hands went numb and the water in my Camelbak froze. There were icicles on my headphone wires and the buff to cover my mouth and nose was frozen solid around the neck.

Last week after putting in a total of 11.5 miles with pack, I weighed it Sunday evening. The scale responded that I was freaking crazy right after it indicated that the pack weight was 40 lbs….5 lbs over the required limit for the Bataan Memorial Marathon. I have left it at 40 lbs. My body feels good so let’s train heavy!

The pack seemed to be less cumbersome than the previous week. Running with it is a complete adjustment. All my core work of the past 2 months has completely paid off and only the shoulders are a bit sore after a back to back days running weekend. It’s hard for me to commence with any speed with all that mass on my back. I feel nimble of foot…but a 14 minute mile is about as best I can muster on a fairly benign surface. The heart rate never gets to high. I continue with core work at least 4 days a week and continue with speed work as well.

On April 9, 1942 Major General Edward King adorned his cleanest uniform and prepared to meet Japan’s General Masaharu Homma for a surrender of the 78,000 American and Filipino soldiers under his command. Seventy-seven years to the day prior, General Lee had met with General Grant at Appotmattox Court House for the exact same reason. Being a student of the Civil War, General King lamented that he now knew how Lee felt on that fateful day when he said, “I would rather die a thousand deaths.” The Battle of Bataan was over…and the worst was yet to come.

(Historical accounts derived from the book Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides)


Regina said...

Love this....inspiration and a history lesson all in one, good times

KK said...

Incredible. I'm always amazed at the Bataan stories. Thanks for sharing this one.

Nice job on doing Bandera with the pack on your back. You're an inspiration Dave! Keep up the great work.

Missy said...

So if I say you're looking heavy, you'll take that as a compliment, right? You won't get a complex about your butt or anything???

Way to tough it out - you are stronger than I am fo sho. Makes me cold just sitting here...

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

wow... what a treat to have all of this history shared. Only better explains yor drive.

VERY NICE on the training already.