KINGS POINT, N.Y., March 18, 2015 – On Monday, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point. General Dempsey was the guest speaker at the 2015 Battle Standard Dinner, an annual event at USMMA, honored the memories of the 142 Cadet-Midshipmen who lost their lives during World War II. The program also included time to remember four recent graduates who lost their lives serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“It was a great honor to host General Dempsey at the US Merchant Marine Academy,” said Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Superintendent. “The presence of the nation’s senior military officer at the Battle Standard Dinner highlights Kings Point’s importance in American history and the vital role that Kings Pointers continue to play in serving our country in peace and war.”
General Dempsey began his speech by thanking the faculty and staff. He said, “thank you for what you do for this institution, for our Nation, and for these young men and women you are preparing to go out into a world that is eager for their leadership.” He added, “to the families of the 142, we’re deeply honored you are here to represent those cadet-midshipmen who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Nation. Their absence here is a somber reminder of the cost of liberty. As we celebrate this evening, we take inspiration from their example.”
Dempsey went on to say, “I do want to express my deep gratitude to the merchant marines and maritime professionals. Our Nation is a great naval power. From the founding days of our Nation to the recent conflicts in the Middle East, a strong maritime industry has been a vital resource upon which we have long depended. In times of peace, the Merchant Marine helps secure our economic and national security needs by keeping the oceans open to trade. In times of conflict, the Merchant Marine carries critical supplies, equipment, and personnel overseas. US mariners represent the best of the American character. On behalf of our Nation’s Armed Forces, thank you for what you do – or will do – every day.”
Midshipmen were thrilled to spend time with the highest ranking member of the United States Military. Midshipman Jorjiane Guaschy, 3/c, said, “In the short time that General Dempsey spoke to the regiment it was made clear that beyond the ribbons, medals, and the uniform, he had experienced the same struggles and challenges that unite everyone who has gone through a service academy. The transparency in which he addressed us made him seem superhuman." Midshipman Timothy Llull, 1/C, added, "The Battle Standard Dinner reminded me why I decided to attend a service academy and serve my country. Honoring the 142, who made the greatest sacrifice defending our nation, refocused why I am here at Kings Point, and what my role will be upon graduation.”