Remembering Sgt. Mark Adams
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
In Morrisville, North Carolina, family and friends are mourning the death of Marine Sergeant Mark Adams. When he was killed earlier this month in Iraq, Sergeant Adams was 24 years old. The Humvee he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. Rose Hoban of North Carolina Public Radio has this remembrance.
ROSE HOBAN reporting:
The determination to excel is one of the first traits people mention when they talk about Mark Adams.
(Soundbite of a wrestling practice)
Unidentified Man: Ready?
HOBAN: At wrestling practice at Cary High School outside of Raleigh, his old coach, Jerry Winterton, remembers a pudgy ninth-grader.
Mr. JERRY WINTERTON (Wrestling Coach): I think kids walk out there and--Boom!--I mean, they're just gifted, and it just comes to them. I--and he was just one of those kids that it wasn't going to come to. He was going to have to go get it.
HOBAN: Adams got beaten badly in his first matches but was determined to stay on the team. He put in extra hours and workouts, and by his senior year, Adams was chosen as team co-captain. He led Cary High, a wrestling powerhouse, to two state championships. Adams was the youngest of three brothers. He followed his older brother, Mike, onto the wrestling team. Last week, as neighbors and friends brought food and condolences to the house, Mike remembered his younger brother's grit.
Mr. MIKE ADAMS (Brother): Always trying to beat our level, even though we were older. And so I think that's where a lot of his determination came from, just throughout the years, just trying to be the best, you know.
HOBAN: And his oldest brother, Marshall, reflected on how being the youngest shaped their brother.
Mr. MARSHALL ADAMS (Brother): Growing up, yeah, he definitely got the brunt end of the stick, you know, when it comes to getting beat up in the living room and wrestling and playing sports and everything. So, I mean, I can see it, you know, looking back now, you know, it's, like, he was determined. `Not only am I going to get to their level, but I'm going to surpass them.'
HOBAN: Both older brothers entered the military, one the Marines, the other the Army, and of course, Mark followed. Adams had already completed four years of active service in the Marines in 2004 and spent the last year home in Morrisville, but he was frustrated. He hadn't seen combat in the war on terror. His father, Phillip Adams, says Mark re-enlisted on the condition he be sent to Iraq.
Mr. PHILLIP ADAMS (Father): You know, Mark really loved the Marines, and I think he really--he--that sense of fulfillment of all the training that he'd had as a Marine, he'd never put that into practice, and he never got an opportunity to use it. And, you know, he told me--he said, `Dad'--he said, `I feel like if I don't do this, that I'll regret it for the rest of my life.'
HOBAN: Adams' father says the family's Christian faith is what keeps them going right now, that and knowing his son believed deeply in what he was doing in Iraq.
Mr. P. ADAMS: He was doing what he wanted to do. He was very good at what he was doing, and he was happy. And so as a Marine parent, it gives me a lot of comfort, and I believe with our president that he died for a noble cause. And so, you know, that's the way he saw it, and that's the way I see it.
HOBAN: In an indication of how much wrestling meant to Adams, his family asked friends to make donations to his old school's program. For NPR News, I'm Rose Hoban.
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