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Army Captain James F. “Jimmy” Adamouski, who planned to enter Harvard Business School (HBS) this fall, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq last Wednesday. He was 29.
Adamouski, who was the first West Point graduate to die in Iraq, was killed along with five other soldiers when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting crashed in central Iraq, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Because of his HBS acceptance, Adamouski—an officer of the Third Aviation Regiment of the Third Infantry Division—had not been required to fly his final mission, his family said.
“In his 29 years, he probably did more than most people do in a lifetime,” James Adamouski’s father, retired Army Lt. Col. Frank Adamouski, said. “Jimmy made such a difference in his life and his future was looking so great with the opportunity to attend Harvard. There is no limit to the contributions he could have made to the future of this country.”
He said his son—who planned to teach at West Point after receiving his MBA—set high standards that were the cornerstone upon which he lived his life.
“As he touched people, people sensed that he himself had a high standard,” Frank Adamouski said. “I was asked how the army has changed my son. Well, my son was changing the army. He did this by setting standards so high that everyone he touched raised their standards a little bit as a result of knowing him.”
Frank Adamouski also said that his son’s standards guided his life from a very early age.
On one occasion during his seventh grade year, Adamouski missed his school bus. Rather than compromise his perfect attendance record, he ran home and phoned a cab to drive him to school, according to his father. Before the cab arrived, he scoured his home for spare change.
As the cab drove him to school, James watched the meter climb until it reached the maximum that he could afford to pay, at which point he told the driver that he would walk to school. The driver, sympathetic, turned off the meter and drove him the rest of the way.
According to his father, Adamouski “made a difference in every class, with every teacher.”
At Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Va., Adamouski was a star on the soccer team, and he also played football and ran cross country and indoor track. He attended American Legion Boys State between his junior and senior year and was eventually elected president of his senior class.
“One of his teachers went on TV and said that, twelve years after his graduation, the difference he made still remains,” Frank Adamouski said.
At West Point, Adamouski continued to play soccer, making the all-Patriot League, and went semi-professional in Germany for a brief stint.
However, according to Matt T. Wiger—an HBS student who attended West Point with Adamouski—a knee injury Adamouski sustained during his senior year of high school threatened his athletic prospects during his first year at the Academy.
“He was actually cut from the soccer team his plebe year at West Point because of [the injury],” Wiger said. “He came up and played JV next year and subsequently passed up seven or eight guys on a very deep varsity to earn a starting position for his junior year.”
Wiger recalled him as an individual who was able to inspire good graces in everyone he met.
“Jimmy was one of those guys. In the army it’s very hard to be liked by both your commanders and your subordinates. Jimmy was able to balance both. He was loved up and down the chain of command,” Wiger said.
On one occasion, according to his father, Barbara Walters and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf were on the West Point campus, waiting for cameras to set up. Adamouski walked up and struck a conversation with the two luminaries.
“Twenty minutes later, [Walters and Schwarzkopf] had to be pried away,” Frank Adamouski said.
After graduating from West Point, Adamouski was accepted to flight school in Ft. Rutger, Ala., where he learned to fly Black Hawk helicopters.
After his first assignment to Geibelstadt, Germany, Adamouski went on two deployments to Bosnia and one to Albania during the Kosovo conflict, after which he returned to Ft. Rutger for advanced training.
Last August, Adamouski married his wife, Meighan, before he was deployed to Iraq. At the time of his death, they had lived together for four and a half of the seven months they had been married.
Meighan Adamouski could not be reached yesterday.
According to his father, Adamouski was also a committed Christian and a lay Eucharistic minister in the Catholic Church.
Frank Adamouski said that the family received a letter from their son after his death detailing how he conducted prayer services, scripture readings and served communion for his fellow soldiers in Iraq.
“Since his mother had always wanted him to be a priest, his company started calling him ‘Father Jimmy,’” Frank Adamouski said.
His father said he received a stream of phone calls and e-mails from people whose lives his son had impacted.
According to Frank Adamouski, one message reads, “I served with Jimmy in Germany. He encouraged me to go back to school and now I’m getting my Bachelor’s in the spring. I owe it all to Jimmy.”
Full military burial services for Adamouski at Arlington National Cemetery are tentatively slated for the week following Easter.
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