Cadet earns perfect score on demanding military mountaineering course

Cadet BensonCadet Sarah Benson '06 was recently recognized as the Distinguished Honor Graduate of the Military Mountaineer Winter Course. A junior psychology major from Oxford, Mass., Benson received her award - which included an Army Achievement Medal - at her graduation ceremony on January 22.

The two-week military mountaineering course, which took place at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont, is one of the most physically and mentally demanding trainings the Army conducts.

"She didn't just do well; she is only the second student in the history of the course - and the only cadet - to earn a perfect overall score of 1000 points," said GEN Kevin Byrnes, USA, the Commanding General of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command.

The course, consisting of nine technical and one written test, covers snowshoeing, skiing, ice climbing, medi-vac rescue, navigation, knots and cold weather survival, among other categories. Benson's competitors were comprised of 62 individuals from both Active and Reserve Components, including officers, NCOs, and junior Soldiers, some from the Special Operations community. The lone female competitor, her score topped them all.

"What a fine representative of the Army ROTC Program and your renowned university," remarked General Byrnes in an e-mail to Norwich alumnus General Gordon R. Sullivan '59 USA, (Ret.).

A member of the Corps Mountain Cold Weather Unit, Benson felt she got tremendous value out of the experience. "It was really cool to be able to participate with all of the active duty and reserve officers," she said. "It was amazing how in such a short period of time we were able to bond and work together as a team."

Cadet Benson, who hopes to receive a commission with US Army Intelligence, was somewhat taken aback at being singled out for her achievement.

"I really didn't expect it to be that big a deal," she said. "But I guess it is one of those once in a lifetime things."

Cadet Benson is the daughter of Matthew and Julie Benson of Oxford, Mass. Her sister, Amanda, is a freshman civilian student at Norwich.

dweggler@norwich.edu, January 2005

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