Story of the Battle Standard
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is privileged among the nation's five federal academies to be the only institution authorized to carry a battle standard as part of its color guard. The proud and colorful battle standard perpetuates the memory of the 142 Academy cadet/midshipmen who were casualties of World War II.
During times of war, members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard engage in combat, but the students at their respective service academies do not. However, the students of the USMMA receive an integral part of their training at sea, and in the Second World War often found their lives in peril as they sailed through enemy-controlled waters or unloaded precious cargo in overseas combat areas. In all, 142 such cadet/midshipmen never returned to home port.
In their memory, the battle standard bears the number "142" on its field of red, white and blue. In its center is the eagle of the Academy's seal in blue and gray, the school colors, and the anchor of the merchant marine in gold. From its top hang the ribbons which represent the various combat zones in which the Academy's cadet/midshipmen served.
The first Academy battle standard was handmade. Since 1965, replacement battle standards have been manufactured following the design provided by the Institute of Heraldry in Great Britain.