KINGS POINT, N.Y., June 27, 2017 - Today, 279 plebe candidates arrived at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and took their first steps toward a lifetime of leadership and service. After saying goodbye to their family members, the Class of 2021 was weighed, measured, given nametags, berthing assignments – and the opportunity to succeed.
While the candidates were getting their first military haircut and changing into PT gear, their parents attended a briefing by USMMA leaders: Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., Superintendent, Captain Mike Stroud, Commandant of Midshipmen, and CDR Paul Acquaro, Director of the Academic Center for Excellence. Admiral Helis congratulated the parents on getting their children to this point and reassured them that the Academy faculty and staff would build upon their strong foundation.
Later, Helis addressed the class for the first time, saying, “Today we celebrate with you as you open a new chapter in service of the nation’s national security, marine transportation, and economic needs.” He reminded the potential Midshipmen, “You must have the conviction and the courage to always choose the harder right over the easier wrong.”
The mission of the United States Merchant Marine Academy is to educate and graduate licensed merchant mariners and leaders of exemplary character who will serve America's marine transportation and defense needs in peace and war.