KINGS POINT, NY – March 13, 2014 – On Monday, March 3, 2014, The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosted Adam C. La Reau during the first Lanier Speaker Series & Dinner of 2014. This most recent dinner was dedicated to the memory of J. Smith Lanier '50, who passed away last December. The Distinguished Speaker Series is funded through an endowment from Mr. and Mrs. J. Smith Lanier. After welcoming remarks by Regimental Commander, MIDN CAPT Connor McGowan, 1/c, and the invocation by Rev. Justin Adour, Rear Admiral James A. Helis Ph.D., Superintendent, introduced USMMA’s Thirty-Second J. Smith Lanier Distinguished Speaker.
Mr. La Reau graduated from USMMA in 2002 with a degree in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation. He was the first Kings Point graduate to report directly to the U.S. Navy Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL (BUD/S) training to earn the title of a U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land Teams). His efforts helped to develop a pipeline for future USMMA midshipmen wishing to serve the nation as U.S. Navy SEALs. His military service with the Navy SEALs included planning and leading numerous combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas around the globe as a SEAL Troop Commander. Mr. La Reau left active duty in 2013 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Mr. La Reau’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with “V” for Valor, two Combat Action Ribbons, and seven awards of the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Mr. La Reau continues his service to others by volunteering with various cancer and veteran non-profit organizations. He created an event under support from The Travis Manion Foundation and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to support children with cancer called One Summit. One Summit teams children with a U.S. Navy SEAL mentor, to experience climbing to help build courage and self-confidence, promoting a foundation for resilience as they battle their disease. In the future, he hopes to scale and incorporate more military men and women from all the U.S. Armed Forces.
The event was held in Delano Hall where the Regiment of Midshipmen, wearing their dress uniforms, were treated to an elegant dinner. After their meal they listened attentively as Mr. La Reau spoke about the many influences that brought him to Kings Point and how eventually he pursued his goal to become a Navy SEAL. He mentioned the example of his parents as great leaders who always encouraged him to believe that he could and do anything he wanted to do. He also mentioned that at a young age he was inspired by the sacrifices of men and women who served to protect our freedoms – which motivated him to serve as a Navy SEAL. He said, “During my senior year at the academy, on one clear morning, our lives changed as did the rest of the world. We were in class and told that there was a fire at the World Trade Center. A few of us came out of class and saw the second plane fly into the tower on Sept 11, 2001 and saw both buildings collapse. Here at Kings Point, triage centers were set up, facilitated movement of police and firefighters to downtown New York City and provided EMTs to help -running towards unknown instead of running away from it. I was proud of Kings Point, truly living by their ethos – Acta Non Verba. Our country was now at war.”
La Reau then spoke about his leadership lessons as a SEAL officer, and the amazing men and women with whom he served. Finally, he offered words of encouragement. He said, “As future leaders of this country, this is an exciting time for all of you. However, the areas and environments you will face whether in the military, merchant marine, private, non-profit or public service will become more challenging. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the merchant marine or on active duty… as a graduate of Kings Point, you’ll be expected to lead - and the training starts now. There’s opportunity to hone your leadership skills here at Kings Point and the more repetitions you get, the more times you will fail, learn and grow. Now more than anytime, this country needs good leaders and will expect you to fill major roles immediately after graduation. Leadership shouldn’t be easy, it’s hard.”
After Mr. La Reau’s inspirational speech, the Regimental Commander presented him with the Light of Leadership Award. The awards inscription explains, “The light of leadership is the light from within, this light is honor and integrity – the true foundation of leadership. It radiates outward to provide vision, encouragement, and inspiration to those we lead.”
“Mr. La Reau has had an outstanding career as a NAVY SEAL. He continues to demonstrate his leadership, honor and outstanding service to his country,” said Rear Admiral Helis “It was our privilege to honor him with one of the Academy’s most prestigious awards, The Light of Leadership.”