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USNA News Center

Midshipmen Run Marine Corps Marathon in Honor of Fallen Classmate

  POSTED ON: Wednesday, November 9, 2022 3:27 PM by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jordyn Diomede

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Around 11,400 participants gathered at the starting line of the 47th Marine Corps Marathon near the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 30. Of those participants, approximately 50 were U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen.

This run in particular was special to Brigade Commander Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Morgan Prigmore, Midshipmen 1st Class Allison McGinnis and Katie Hammonds, and Midshipmen 2nd Class (junior) Lauren Aguilar, Mackenzie Kirkpatrick, and Sarah Richardson – all of whom ran the marathon in honor of their fallen classmate, Midshipman 2nd Class Luke Bird.

group photo with medals

Bird was in Chile participating in a semester abroad program at the Arturo Prat Naval Academy, which serves as Chile’s Naval Academy. He passed away in July when he reportedly lost his footing and fell over a waterfall while hiking with a Chilean Naval Academy student.

“Luke is family to me, and that’s why I wouldn’t have picked any group of people to do this with other than my 2nd Company family,” said Prigmore. “We stuck with each other every mile because we knew Luke would do the same. It was very important for all of us to have his legacy live on through two things he loved, physical fitness and the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the U.S., and the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money. Known as “The People’s Marathon,” this is the first race back following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

“Luke was planning on running the Marine Corps Marathon since plebe year but it kept getting canceled because of COVID,” said Richardson. “After he passed away this summer, we decided we would sign up and train for the race in honor of Luke. He always found new ways to push himself and always gave 110%.”

They ran the race wearing t-shirts with a quote from Bird that said, “The only thing I ask of you is to not give up on yourself.”

photo of the shirt with quote

“This race honors the service and sacrifice that so many people have given, so running this race for Luke was very fitting,” she said. “I never thought about running a marathon anytime soon as it was my first one, but having that quote on our shirts and thinking of Luke made me feel so honored while running. Also, a funny thing we told each other before the race was, ‘Luke will judge us if we stop or slow down too much so let's just keep going.’ Knowing that a lot of people running besides us had their own ‘why’ to run the marathon was also inspiring.”

Other runners would ask the meaning behind their shirts, and although it wasn’t an easy question for them to answer, it was a reminder to them of why they were running.

“It is hard to describe the feeling of running such a special race in honor of Luke,” said Aguilar. “During the halfway point of the marathon, there were ‘Faces of the Fallen’ tribute posters to honor heroes who gave their life to serve the nation. This was very powerful as it allowed us to pay respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gain insight into others' reasons for running. I reflected a lot on how Luke was my reason for running and what it means to serve. The energy and support of the crowd all around D.C. and Virginia had an unmatched energy.”

Throughout the race, they stayed together, pushing each other to keep going and knowing all along that they had the same motivation – to honor Luke.

“Luke had always been very supportive of his classmates and enjoyed challenging himself with difficult physical evolutions, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to remember him,” said Kirkpatrick. “I was motivated by the atmosphere of the race and the other people running for those they have lost.”

Crossing the finish line together after more than four hours of running throughout the nation’s capital, the midshipmen received a medal from a Marine and the satisfaction of knowing they had completed this race for Bird.

“We remember Luke and how selfless he was to those around him,” said Kirkpatrick. “This race was an opportunity to honor him and carry on his memory.”


Category: Midshipman, General Interest