Kiawah Island Marathon Honors Fallen Military

Kiawah Marathon Flags for Fallen
Family of Second Lieutenant Clifford Gadsden pose with the flag carried by marathon runner Rod Carpenter.

The desire and commitment to run Kiawah Island Marathon represents a huge step for many people, requiring sacrifice and dedication, but for one man in particular running the course has become a way to honor another whose sacrifice was far greater than anything any marathon runner faces. Each year while running the Kiawah Island Marathon, Rod Carpenter carries a United States flag provided by Flags 4 Fallen to honor a service member who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of his or her country.

In the 41st marathon, Rod carried a flag to honor the sacrifice of Second Lieutenant Clifford “C.C.” Gadsden, US Army, a native son of Charleston who gave his life while on active duty in 2005. Lieutenant Gadsden left behind  his wife, Erica, and two children, along with his parents, a grandmother and two sisters, among many other family and friends.

After the race, members of Johns Island High School ROTC, who volunteered at the finish line, served as honor guard and performed the flag-folding and presentation ceremony.

Lt. Gadsden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from South Carolina State University in 2003. That same year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

During his service, Lt. Gadsden was bestowed the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. He was posthumously bestowed the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart after he was killed by a truck bomb on April 29th, 2005.

Flags 4 Fallen has honored more than 340 patriots through the simple act of a runner carrying a flag. As an avid runner, Rod actively ran from 1978 through 1987, including the Boston Marathon, until he was sidelined by arthritis. But Rod hit the pavement again to renew his passion for running after receiving a knee replacement in 2013. He has since run three marathons.

Heading into Memorial Day, it is fitting to pause for a moment to honor the memory and sacrifice of Lt. Gadsden and countless other service members to whom we owe an unrepayable debt of gratitude. It is also a proper time to reflect with thanks on the actions of Rod Carpenter, who continues to memorialize our lost military veterans in this very fitting and public manner.

Nearing the finish line!

Lt. Gadsden's son embracing runner Rod Carpenter after crossing the finish line.

Lt. Gadsden's father embraces runner Rod Carpenter while his son looks on, holding the flag that Carpenter carried in his father's honor.

Lt. Gadsden's son and Marathon runner Rod Carpenter in a post-race interview with local media.

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