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ESPN Celebrates Veterans Day Live From The United States Merchant Marine Academy

KINGS POINT, N.Y., November 12, 2013 – Yesterday, as the culmination of ESPN’s week-long salute to Veterans, “America’s Heroes: A Salute to the Troops”, ESPN’s television show, First Take, and ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show broadcast live from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. First Take hosts Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Cari Champion were joined by Actor, Tom Selleck, football player, Fred Smoot, and USMMA Superintendent James A. Helis, Phd.

The television show began with the USMMA Regimental Band, “George M. Cohan’s Own” playing “Heave Ho". Then the hosts introduced Rear Admiral Helis, who gave them brief history of the Academy. Helis explained, “The Merchant Marine Academy was dedicated in 1943 and as President Roosevelt said at the time, ‘to serve the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army, and Annapolis serves the Navy.’ Since that time midshipmen and graduates of the Academy have served in every one of the nation’s conflicts going into zones of harm. 142 midshipmen were killed in action in World War II during their sea-training. Today our graduates serve in every one of the armed forces overseas, serving in Afghanistan today. They also serve on Military Sealift Command ships and commercial vessels moving the supplies, the goods, the equipment for our Armed Forces everyday around the world.”

When Helis was asked about this favorite football team, the New England Patriots, his answers so impressed the hosts that they asked him if he had a coaching career in his future. He responded “I love this job. It is an honor and a privilege to serve here every day with these fantastic young men and women. I wouldn’t give it up for the world – even for the Patriots!”

Rear Admiral Helis was followed by interviews and sports discussions with Tom Selleck, Army National Guard Veteran and current star of the CBS series, Blue Bloods and Fred Smoot, former NFL defensive back for the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.

Between segments Midshipmen were invited to ask the hosts sports-related questions. Many asked about their home teams and prominent sports figures. However, Midshipman Tyler Washington, Captain of the USMMA Mariners Football team, asked a question on behalf of their adopted teammate, 7 year-old Mikey Weinstein who is battling childhood cancer. With Mikey watching from home, Tyler asked “Can the Giants win the division?” After an extensive and entertaining rationalization Stephen A. Smith, answered, “I can’t rule it out. There is hope.”

Once the sports discussions ended, the hosts returned to honoring our nations Veterans. Regimental Public Affairs Officer, First Class Midshipman Anthony Franza, lead everyone in a moment of silence “in honor of all our veterans, especially those who have died defending our country.” The show concluded with the band playing the Academy Alma Mater. After the show, Rear Admiral Helis was interviewed again on the Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show. The live broadcast could be heard throughout the New York Tri-state area.

First Class Midshipman, Nick Grippo, the Regimental Color Guard Commander said, “It was a great day for Kings Point. We were very happy to represent the Academy and salute all Veterans – especially fellow Kings Pointers!”

For clips of First Take please go to:

Interview with Rear Admiral Helis

Interview with Tom Selleck

Midshipmen Questions and Hello to  KP Mariners Football “Teammate” Mikey Weinstein

ESPN Radio Sound Byte of the interview with RADM James A. Helis on the Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco

Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2013