KINGS POINT, N.Y., September 30, 2013 – Today, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) marks its 70th anniversary. The Academy, which began as a World War II Cadet Corps training facility, was dedicated as the United States Merchant Marine Academy on this date in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “The Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis serves the Navy,” said Roosevelt.
During this past weekend, USMMA celebrated the Academy’s 70-year anniversary during Homecoming 2013. The Acting Maritime Administrator, Paul Jaenichen and Superintendent, James A. Helis, Ph.D. were there to welcome home alumni and their families and to honor the memories of those lost. One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing 16 members of the class of 1943 in formation on the on the 50-yard line behind the USMMA Regimental Color Guard as they carried the Battle Standard. In the Academy’s first graduating class 1,164 midshipmen graduated, but 142 midshipmen were killed during their sea-year training period. The Regimental Battle Standard which is always carried by the Regimental Color Guard honors these 142 undergraduates who laid down their lives for their country.
Another highlight of the weekend was when the Academy community rendered honors to four of the female graduates of the class of 1978, Francis Yates, Terry Olsen Preston, Ivy Barton Suter and Nancy Wagner. USMMA’s Class of 1978 was the first class from any service Academy to include female graduates. “These women are great examples of what it is to be a Kings Pointer,” said Helis. “They have dedicated their lives to service and leadership. They have served this nation as Merchant Marine Officers, as Navy Officers and as pioneers in industry. We honor them and all Kings Pointers who have served this great nation for the past 70 years in peace and war.”
USMMA graduates have served in every conflict since World War II. The nine ribbons attached to the top of the Standard represent the service ribbon bars earned by members of the Regiment during World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. USMMA is the only Federal Service Academy privileged to carry a Regimental Battle Standard.