By Kathy Eastwood (USMA West Point Public Affairs)March 21, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Mar. 21, 2016) - The 2nd annual Golden Oar Run, manned by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Men's and Women's Crew teams and some family members, took place March 3 at Trophy Point.
The crew members and the families of Lt. Col. Jaimie Leonard, Capt. Matthew Carpenter, Capt. Samuel Brown and Capt. Morton Williams ran the two-mile inspirational run.
Leonard, USMA Class of 1997, was killed in action June 8, 2013, during her second tour in Afghanistan.
Carpenter, USMA Class of 2003, died Dec. 1, 2010 of a rare form of cancer. His son Joey, wife Beth and mother Debra attended the ceremony, traveling from northern Virginia.
Brown, USMA Class of 2006, is a wounded warrior. Brown was engulfed in flames from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Sept. 8, 2008 and suffered burns to more than 30 percent of his body.
Williams, U.S. Navy retired, was a volunteer coach and fundraiser for Army Crew for years. Williams' son David and wife Grazia attended the ceremony. Williams died of cancer Jan. 16, 2016.
The Army Crew team began the new tradition last year to remember and honor fallen and wounded former crew members and others who were significant to the team. They were remembered in a ceremony before the traditional 'dipping of the oar' into the Hudson River to commemorate the beginning of the spring crew season.
Men's Crew Captain, Class of 2016 Cadet Dave Grossman, spoke in eloquent terms about the Army Crew team and extolled the qualities of the oar. "An oar is not a paddle. A paddle is for paddling. Oars are used for rowing," Grossman said. "In case you are wondering what the difference is between a paddle and an oar, look no further than the agony of the paces of a crew approaching the last few minutes of a race. Unlike paddles, oars have character. Oars represent our values. Oars have pride, they have respect, but most of all oars, like the rowers who use them, are resilient. We can always count on the oar to be there for us when we need it most.
"The Army Crew is a special team; we are fighting for more than just victory on the racecourse," Grossman continued. "We are synchronized by our commitment for service. We row for more than each other, and we never forget our men and women who have sacrificed before us."
The Women's crew captain, Class of 2016 Cadet Catherine Browning, spoke next about former team member Jaimie Leonard.
"Lt. Col. Leonard believed that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well," Browning said. "She was an athlete with unparalleled determination. She was serving her second tour in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division when she was killed. She was a leader who led from the front, allowing her actions to do the talking.
"Lt. Col. Leonard was known for her love of the sport. She loved rowing so much that she used her cow loan to buy a scull, a 27-foot, one-man boat. The coach warned her about traveling with the boat, but she wanted it so much, she bought it anyway. It is still hanging in the boathouse where she left it," she added.
Family member Beth Carpenter sees the ceremony and the run as a positive influence for her son Joey.
"He sees his name on the boat and in the boathouse," Carpenter said of her husband Capt. Matthew Carpenter. "It's great for kids. He needs to know his dad."
Joey become popular with the crew team as he ran with them in front helping to carry the golden oar, as did Carpenter's two younger siblings. Matthew Carpenter also has two brothers who are USMA graduates, Patrick, USMA Class of 2012, and Alex, USMA Class of 2014. Joey helped Class of 2016 Cadet Jordan Duran, commodore of the crew team, dip the golden oar into the Hudson River to commemorate the beginning of the crew spring season at the end of the race, a tradition that from now on, will not begin until Army Crew stops and reflects on those who have gone before.