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Secretary of Defense Announced as United States Merchant Marine Academy Commencement Speaker

KINGS POINT, N.Y., Friday, May 11, 2018 — Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, announced today that James N. Mattis, 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense, will deliver the 82nd Commencement address at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, N.Y., on Saturday, June 16, 2018.

“The United States Merchant Marine Academy is extremely honored to have Secretary Mattis as our commencement speaker,” said Helis. “This year marks USMMA’s 75th anniversary.  It is especially fitting to have Secretary Mattis – who epitomizes our graduates’ highest aspirations and whose father was a Merchant Mariner – address the Class of 2018.”

James N. Mattis became the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense on January 20, 2017. A native of Richland, Washington, Secretary Mattis enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at the age of 18. After graduating from Central Washington University in 1971, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

During his more than four decades in uniform, Secretary Mattis commanded Marines at all levels, from an infantry rifle platoon to a Marine Expeditionary Force. He led an infantry battalion in Iraq in 1991, an expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, a Marine Division in the initial operations and subsequent stability operations in Iraq in 2003, and led all U.S. Marine Forces in the Middle East as Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

During his non-combat assignments, Secretary Mattis served as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; as Director, Marine Corps Manpower Plans & Policy; as Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and as Executive Secretary to the Secretary of Defense.

As a joint force commander, Secretary Mattis commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command, NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, and U.S. Central Command. At U.S. Central Command, he directed military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and allied forces across the Middle East.

Following his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013, Secretary Mattis served as the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, specializing in the study of leadership, national security, strategy, innovation, and the effective use of military force. In 2016, he co-edited the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.

The mission of the United States Merchant Marine Academy is to educate and graduate leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.

Updated: Friday, May 11, 2018
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