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Pickerington man honoring his uncle, a WWII veteran, by marching 100 miles

The virtual 65-mile "RUCK" raises funds and awareness for Honor Flight Columbus.

BEXLEY, Ohio — A Pickerington man is marching 100 miles to celebrate his uncle, who was a World War II veteran and a prisoner of war for three years.

"He was a survivor," said Dennis Smith.

Smith joined veterans, active-duty service members and their friends and families in a virtual "RUCK," marching at least 65 miles in 58 days to bring awareness and honor to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving the nation.

The march honors the 75,000 Filipino and American troops who were captured on April 9, 1942 in Bataan and forced to make a 65-mile march to prison camps in five days. Among those marching was Smith's uncle, Lt. John A. Ryan.

"He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March," Smith said. "During that death march if you faltered, if you tripped, if you complained, if you just couldn't make it, you were just shot and left."

For 65 miles, participants of this year's ruck march carried 20-pound rucksacks on their backs, to symbolize the weight of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

By Sunday, Smith "rucked" 98 miles.

"Anything to serve our veterans, right?"

He'll ruck his final two miles to the granite obelisk in Bexley that was built to honor all those who served in WWII.

Proceeds from the ruck march will benefit Honor Flight Columbus

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