(From left to right) Wounded Warrior, Marine Corps Major Justin Constantine, Eric Kowal, Dave Wolak, Sean Clark, and Dustin Haskell at the six-mile marker of the 26.2 mile marathon known as the Bataan Memorial Death March.
Dave Wolak resting after pulling from the march just before the half way marker.
Yamaha Pro Angler Dave Wolak Lends Support
22nd Annual Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico
This March, Yamaha Pro Dave Wolak traded in his rod and reel for a 40 lb. military ruck sack and paired up with some former Marines and one wounded Marine to compete in the 22nd annual Bataan Memorial Death March. The march is 26.2-mile full marathon in the sandy, mountains and desert of New Mexico.
Wolak, a five-time Bassmaster® Classic Qualifier and 2005 Bassmaster® Rookie of the Year, joined a record number of 6400 participants who marched in the annual event held in honor of the thousands of prisoners of war that were forcibly marched to their death in the Philippine jungles during WWII. The proceeds from the event help fund a fishing tournament for severely wounded Marines and Soldiers, called the Marines Helping Marines Fishing Tournament. Wolak has supported and participated in the annual fishing tournament for wounded warriors at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital the past two years.
Wolak and his team chose to march in honor of wounded warrior Marine Corps Major Justin Constantine during the competition. Constantine was shot through the back of the skull by a sniper in Iraq in 2006. The bullet tore through his skull just behind his left ear, smashed his jaw, and exited through his right cheek. He had been in Iraq just six weeks. He has since had bone removed from both of his fibulas, in his legs, to reconstruct his upper and lower jaws, and had bone and bone marrow from his hip grafted into his mouth. The Marines Helping Marines Fishing Tournament, gives nearly a dozen wounded military veterans the opportunity to pair up with a professional or semi-pro angler and compete in a bass fishing tournament. The third annual Marines Helping Marines Fishing Tournament is scheduled to take place at Anchor Marina in North East, Md. on Armed Forces Day, May 21.
“I did the Bataan March because this is a cause that is extremely meaningful to me. I studied physical therapy in school and know a lot about what these wounded soldiers are going through as they deal with rehabilitation and recovery. Their contributions to our country and the freedom they protect is overwhelming. I am in awe of their strength,” said Wolak. “The Marines Helping Marines Fishing Tournament really gives these folks a great fishing experience. Many of them have been in the hospital for weeks or months, and this tournament is one of their first real outings. It’s a great way to share my passion for fishing and the outdoors with people who enjoy the sport as much as I do.”
Wolak is not new to participating in physically challenging events like Bataan. He recently competed in his first marathon, and strives to fit competitive running events into his busy tournament and sponsor promotion schedule. A prior knee injury and full ACL reconstruction eventually forced Wolak to withdraw from the walk around the 12-mile marker. The remaining four members of the team endured the loss of a few toenails, severe blisters, and cramping but finally crossed the finish line.
“I have no regrets and plan to participate in the March again. I am really proud of my team for completing it. They were true warriors for grinding it out through all the blisters and pain,” said Wolak.
Donations are still needed for this year’s fishing tournament. Your donations will help pay for hotel rooms, travel expenses, meals, and fishing equipment for each wounded veterans and his or her family. Y
If You Would Like to Make a Donation:
Eric Kowal at Semper Fi Marketing, (570) 350-2818