KINGS POINT, N.Y., Dec. 22, 2015 - The United States Merchant Marine Academy Regimental Band recently travelled to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to participate in grand opening of three new exhibits.
Led by USMMA’s Director of Music, Capt. Kenneth R. Force, USMS, they joined Master of Ceremonies, noted actor, director and producer, Gary Sinese in providing entertainment for the gala and dedication, which paid tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought and sacrificed for freedom.
The three day gala that included the dedication of the Richard C. Adkerson & Freeport-McMoRan Foundation Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries within the Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theatres, The LTJG Ralph E. Crump Merchant Marine Gallery, and the American Spirit Bridge brought together veterans and representatives of the U.S. Military, Government, and the U.S. Merchant Marine.
“The Regimental Band gave possibly their best performance I have heard,” said Superintendent, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, who also attended the event. “We are very proud that the USMMA Regimental Band was invited to represent generations of merchant mariners and cadet-midshipmen, who like Mr. Crump, have served the nation during every conflict since World War II through today - including the 142 cadet-midshipmen who were killed while serving aboard U.S. vessels during the war.”
The LTJG Ralph E. Crump Merchant Marine Gallery, is sponsored by its naming donor, USMMA Alumnus, Ralph E. Crump, Class of 1946.
The National World War II Museum describes the LTJG Ralph E. Crump Merchant Marine Gallery as a, “stand-alone 940-square-foot gallery honors the civilian merchant mariners who risked their lives transporting weapons, men, and matériel to US troops overseas. Members of the Merchant Marine were an essential force for the Allied cause, often working together with US Navy or Coast Guard vessels to protect their precious cargo. Crossing the Atlantic and Pacific, they sailed under deadly threat of Japanese destroyers and German U-boats, which attacked as near as the Gulf of Mexico. Through video, artifacts, a model of a Liberty ship, and an engaging array of personal narratives, this exhibit tells their story—including impressive logistical feats, tales of constant danger (and higher casualty rate than any US branch of service), and the role of this hardworking group in transporting 7.3 million American soldiers to support the epic battle fought across the oceans and continents of the world.”
The midshipmen were treated to a preview of the galleries before they opened to the public. They were immersed in history through newsreels, exhibits and interactive oral-history kiosks.
“The trip was fantastic!” said Regimental Band Master, Midshipman 1st Class Steven Blake. “It was an honor to be invited to play, especially for so many alumni and Veterans. They took time to thank us, but we are so grateful to them for their service and sacrifice.”
By Veronica Cassidy Barry