Name: Micah Kidney
Lives in: Rochester
What he does: ORRHS math teacher and Gateway Gladiators ice hockey head coach
How he got here: Originally from Dennis, Massachusetts, he moved to Vermont and taught math for 13 years, joined the military in 2003, and then moved back to the region after returning from a military deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.
An Exceptional and Unregrettable Path…
By Jean Perry
When you think about all the possible roads one could take in life, there is a whole separate list of particularly challenging professional paths that only those with a distinct dedication and daring decide to venture down.
Micah Kidney has chosen to walk not only one such path in life, but two of the most challenging and also vital roles – soldier and teacher.
Kidney is most recognized in Tri-Town in his role as math teacher at Old Rochester Regional High School for the last seven years, but the United States Armed Forces just this month recognized the U.S. Army Rangers Major and HHC Commander of the 86th Mountain Infantry Brigade for his exceptional service and leadership as commander of the Mountain Brigade Combat Team and presented him the esteemed Meritorious Service Medal.
For most Americans, the events of September 11, 2001 changed everything. Kidney wanted to join the military right away, but a physical problem with his left eye delayed the start of that journey down the road of defending the country. It took him a year and a half, actually, and a little assistance from a Vermont senator who petitioned for Kidney’s acceptance on his behalf.
Kidney joined the U.S. Army Rangers based near Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain peak in Vermont, serving in the last mountain qualified unit in the entire Army.
“I love the mission because we do rock climbing and rescue,” said Kidney. “I decided to stay for the rest of my career.”
During this time, Micah continued to teach math in Vermont for 13 years before he moved back to Massachusetts and started teaching at ORR.
Later he spent 14 months in the Afghanistan mountains of Jahi Valley near the Pakistan border, “Interestingly enough, I was deployed to the valley where Osama bin Laden was captured,” Kidney said.
For Kidney’s wife Heather and their four children, it can be difficult with Kidney away so often – for a cumulative four out of the last 15 years, in fact, Kidney said.
“My family has been super supportive,” Kidney said. “My wife, she’s been a trooper, always supporting her husband, and she’s always been super supportive of my love for this country.”
Kidney’s kids now range in age from 12 to 20, and when it came time to announce that Kidney would be the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award this year, ”They knew it was a big deal from the look of surprise on my face,” said Kidney.
Here is the deal, according to Kidney. If you do a decent job you get the opportunity to command a company. Well, Kidney has now thrice served as commander, which alone speaks to his superiors’ confidence in his capabilities.
The way the medal is awarded, said Kidney, is that the recommendation has to be made by a colonel and then approved and signed off on by a general, of which there are only two in Vermont.
“It was definitely unexpected,” said Kidney. “The only other time I’ve ever seen it awarded was the end of a 30-year career.”
The Math Department at ORR wasn’t about to let this event go by quietly unnoticed by the community, either, although Kidney wasn’t inclined to announce the recognition he had received. It’s hard for him to stand in the spotlight for a duty he has committed himself to selflessly.
“Attention, for most soldiers, is hard,” Kidney admitted. “We have a hard time when there’s any attention shined back at us.”
Major Kidney is still a member of the Vermont National Guard, travelling twice a month to his northern Vermont military reservation, with the full support of his wife and kids.
“The thing that I am most proud of is that I had the privilege of serving with so many heroes. Our unit spent a year in the most violent and least free place on the planet deep in Taliban country. Some of my closest friends didn’t make it home, but the American soldiers that I served with continued to fight for each other every single day with honor, selflessness, and true valor,” Kidney said.
“Throughout the last 15 years of my time in the service, throughout all of the challenges involved with being an Army Ranger and serving in a high tempo unit, I haven’t regretted a single moment. I have truly loved every second of my military career, and I love being able to say that I served my country to the extent that I have.”
The following is a timeline of Kidney’s ongoing military career:
2003-2005 – Platoon Leader – Alpha Company/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2005-2007 – Scout Platoon Leader – Headquarters/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2007-2009 – Detachment One Commander/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2009-2011 – Executive Officer (2nd in command) during deployment to Jaji, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF2010) – Alpha Company/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Combat Outpost Herrera, Paktia, Eastern Afghanistan
2011-2014 – Commander – Alpha Company/ 3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry-Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2014-2017 – Commander – Headquarters Company 86th Mountain Infantry Brigade, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT