KINGS POINT, N.Y., October 9, 2015 – Today during morning colors, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosted a ceremony to remember and honor the officers and crew who were lost aboard the El Faro, which sank last week in the Atlantic Ocean.
During the ceremony, Superintendent, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, addressed the faculty, staff, alumni and Regiment of Midshipmen. “Let us never forget the service these mariners, and all seafarers, provide to all Americans and our nation. Those who go out to the sea help defend our shores, and provide the lifeblood for our nation’s commerce. Their sacrifices, including long separations from family and friends, make possible our way life. They do this every day, without fanfare or publicity, with little notice from the public, while constantly facing the hazards of the unforgiving seas, where the routine can all too quickly turn deadly," said Helis. “As we go forth today, let us dedicate ourselves to the memory and the sacrifices of the crew of the El Faro. Let them live on, as examples of the quiet professionalism of those who take to the sea, and diligently stand their watch, in all hazards, for all times, in peace and war.”
Command Chaplain, Lt. Cmdr. Jerry Durham led a moment of silence and prayer. He offered words of comfort, “ Eternal Father, today we mourn the loss of 33 of our fellow mariners to the sea. Men and women who’s spirits compelled them to serve our nation and our world by giving of themselves for a greater good. Today, I ask for your Spirit to comfort the immediate family members whose loved ones comprised the crew of the El Faro. May your peace surround them. Be with our fellow Mariners as we seek to understand and comprehend, if possible, the gravity of such a loss.”
Then, Midshipman Emily Bull, Regimental Operations Officer, read the names of the crew members including, Steve Shultz, Class of 1984. Midshipman Zachary Dy, gave one strike of the bell for each. Midshipman Bull then announced the name of El Faro and Midshipman Dy struck eight bells to signify the end of her watch. A single bugler played taps, before the Regimental Band ended the ceremony with, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
Afterward, midshipmen shared memories of the crew. “During my Sea Year, I sailed with Third Assistant Engineer, Mike Holland, on another ship. We were together every day for 2 months. He was a great guy,” said Midshipman Mitchell, Boyd. “The loss of the El Faro, has inspired me to consider active duty U.S. Coast Guard, after graduation. Thinking about the crew really makes you want to do something."
Midshipman Christian Livi, said "The impact of the El Faro felt throughout Kings Point has been greater than most could comprehend. The 33 souls lost are a constant reminder of the perils of the sea but truly show the bond of the maritime community and remind us to be thankful every day."