Mountain Cold Weather Company
honors a fallen comrade © Nov. 24, 2009, Norwich University Office of Communications

Nancy Smyth, mother of Class of 2004ís Adam Kennedy, thanks members of the Mountain Cold Weather Company during the first-annual Adam's Army Run, held Oct. 24, 2009, in Norfolk, Mass., in honor of her son who died in Iraq.

photo courtesy of The Sun ChronicleNancy Smyth, mother of Class of 2004’s Adam Kennedy, thanks members of the Mountain Cold Weather Company during the first-annual Adam’s Army Run, held Oct. 24, 2009, in honor of her son who died in Iraq.

Members of Norwich University’s Mountain Cold Weather Company didn’t have time to seek out sponsorship money for a memorial fundraising foot race. They arrived at the event last-minute and empty handed.

Still, 180 people who gathered in Norfolk, Mass., to run five miles in memory of Army Sgt. Adam Kennedy cheered when nine students arrived in fatigues and Mountain Cold Weather [MCW] T-shirts and prepared to run the October 2009 race in formation. After all, Adam Kennedy—a soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq—was an MCW member and 2004 graduate of Norwich, the country’s oldest private military college. Although they learned about the race just a few days before it happened, company members were eager to represent their place in the life of the fallen soldier.

“[We went] to show that when you graduate, you’re not forgotten,” said Kevin Sciba, a third-year student from Hopewell Junction, N.Y. “You’re always part of the company and the school.”

I thought it was very important that we go down there and honor him and all that he’s done for our country

~ Colin Grant,
Norwich student, MCW member

Friends and family organized Adam’s Army Run in the soldier’s hometown to raise money for a scholarship in his name. Adam was killed at the age of 25 on April 8, 2007, when an improvised explosive device burst while his unit was conducting combat control south of Baghdad.

Gregg Kennedy, MCW’s rescue team leader [who is not related to Adam], pointed to a photograph of the soldier that was provided by Adam’s parents shortly after the race. It was placed high up on the wall of the company’s cavernous home in Norwich’s Northfield, Vt., campus. Hanging it would have presented little problem, as the walls were strung with ropes, webbing, harnesses, carabiners and other gear that members use to practice mountaineering, high altitude rescue and winter survival skills. Founded in 1947, Mountain Cold Weather Company is open to cadets preparing for all branches of the service, and is the only program of its kind at a private U.S. college.

“I’ve heard he was stationed in Alaska after graduation,” said Gregg, a senior from Quincy, Mass. “I don’t know if [MCW] had anything to do with that.”

Gregg’s grandmother learned of Adam’s Army Run in a newspaper, and alerted his parents who passed on the information. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation when he suggested that rescue team members drive down to participate, he said.

“As soon as I put the word out, everyone just hopped on it,” said Gregg. “They said we should do more of this kind of thing.”

After the race, students visited Adam’s parents and spent the night at Gregg’s home. He called it a quiet, reflective weekend that gave members a chance to learn a bit about Adam from the people who knew him.

Sciba added that the race took place on a cold, rainy day, but still had a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere. It was fun to run as a unit, even if they weren’t competing.

“We wanted to be there as a motivating tool,” he said. “It seemed like they really appreciated us being there.”

Gregg said he believes the company will make the race a yearly event. With more time for organization and outreach, he’d like to see MCW alumni included in the future, and participants raising money and running competitively.

Colin Grant, a third-year student from North Eastham, Mass., wasn’t surprised that MCW members were willing to show up, even if Adam graduated before any of them arrived at Norwich. Fellow company members, along with the “buddies” he made as a freshman rook, have become the closest friends he’s ever had and his years at Norwich have influenced him profoundly.

“I thought it was very important that we go down there and honor him and all that he’s done for our country,” said Grant, who plans to commission into the Army after he graduates. “It kind of makes me want to support my country even more, seeing all the support people give to the service.”