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USMMA Hosts Annual Battle Standard Dinner Honoring Fallen Kings Pointers

Photo by MIDN  Kenobi Kinch, 1/c, SEAC Troy Black

KINGS POINT, New York, April 13, 2024 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) held its annual Battle Standard Dinner on April 4th, 2024. This annual event honors the memories of the 142 USMMA Cadet-Midshipmen who lost their lives during World War II and takes time to remember recent graduates who lost their lives serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The evening began with rendering honors to Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan, Superintendent, Rear Admiral David M. Wulf, Deputy Superintendent, Capt. Mikel Stroud, Commandant of Midshipmen, and Tamekia Flack, Deputy Maritime Administrator, and the National Anthem sung by USMMA’s Chapel Choir. Lieutenant Commander Mark Beaudet, USN, Command Chaplain, led the invocation. Then, the Class of 2024 proposed a series of four toasts: to the National Ensign, the Commander and Chief, fallen comrades, and to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Vice Adm. Nunan shared a few words before introducing the keynote speaker, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SEAC) Troy Black. SEAC Black, who assumed his current post as the 5th Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Nov. 3rd, 2023, previously served as the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. In his speech, SEAC Black addressed the challenges faced by the nation and expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made by the Gold Star Families and Congressional Gold Medal recipients. He thanked the Donnelly and Seesan families for their sacrifice and for continuing to honor the legacy of their loved ones.

At the conclusion of his speech, Black was joined by Vice Adm. Nunan, Capt. Stroud, and the Seesan Family, who presented the First Lieutenant Aaron N. Seesan Memorial Award for excellence in military leadership and ethics to Midshipman First Class [Name]. The award was given in memory of Army First Lieutenant Aaron Seesan, Class of 2003, who lost his life in Mosul, Iraq, on May 22nd, 2005, while serving with the 73rd Engineer Company, out of Fort Lewis, Washington.

Although the Donnelly family was not in attendance, Sgt Major Black remembered them and their son, 1st Lt William J. Donnelly IV. The official party stepped on stage for the presentation of the 1st Lt William J. Donnelly IV Award in memory of Will Donnelly, Class of 2008, who was killed in action while leading Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan on November 25th, 2010. The award was presented to Sgt Black served in the same battalion subsequent to Will’s death.

After the dinner, Black said, “Speaking at the Battle Standard Dinner this year was first and foremost an opportunity for the Office of the SEAC, in conjunction with the Chairman and Joint Force, to formally recognize the 142 cadet-midshipmen who set the ultimate standard of service and sacrifice during World War II. Their legacy is carried on through the Class of 2024, who’s experiences at the Academy and underway in places like the South China Sea shaped them as leaders ready to navigate the uncertain waters of tomorrow’s Joint Force operations. Celebrating their accomplishments and honoring the Merchant Marine heritage was a privilege I won’t soon forget. “

Of the Nation’s five federal service academies, USMMA is the only one authorized to carry a battle standard as part of its Regimental Color Guard. The Academy’s Battle Standard proudly commemorates and perpetuates the memory of the 142 cadet-midshipmen who gave the last full measure of devotion in World War II. In their memory, the Battle Standard bears the number “142.”

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, N.Y, educates and graduates 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. The Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, was dedicated as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.

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