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USMMA's Regimental Band Performs Ceremony of Beating Retreat - Captain Force Announces Retirement Plans

KINGS POINT, N.Y., September 11, 2015 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) Director of Music, Capt. Kenneth R. Force, USMS, announced his intention to retire in 2016 at the end of the “Ceremony of Beating Retreat” performed by the USMMA Regimental Band with the Nassau County Police Department Pipes and Drums.

 A highlight of the Academy’s Parents Weekend, the ceremony is a musical extravaganza with origins in 17th century Europe, showcasing the midshipmen’s musical talent and impressively choreographed marching skill. The event was dedicated to the parents of USMMA midshipmen “for the guidance, support and encouragement you have provided to our future national leaders in training.” Force, made special mention of “the parents of our Band Members, for all those music lessons they paid for and those hours of band practice they put up with back home!”

This year’s show included midshipman vocalists MIDN 1/C Vincent Lettieri and MIDN 3/C Rachel Grignon, singing Lee Greenwood’s “God  Bless the U.S.A.”, conducted by Midshipman Bandmaster, MIDN 1/C Steven Blake.

After a spectacular show, Force thanked the band for their outstanding performance, and his friend, Senior Drum Major in the British Armed Forces, Warrant Officer 1 James Whitwham, for sharing his knowledge and expertise. Then Force announced to the crowd of midshipmen parents, family members, alumni and friends, “I intend to retire after graduation, 2016.”

 “I’ve had a long career, and a very positive career.” said Force later. “This is a Military Marching Museum.  Modeled after the Royal Marines, what we do is unique in America.  The secret to our success is our uniqueness.”

Superintendent Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, said, “Capt. Force has made outstanding contributions to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Under his direction, the Regimental Band has brought national and international recognition to USMMA through their participation in events ranging from Presidential Inaugurations to the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We thank him for his many years of selfless service to the Academy and our nation.”  

Force has served as the Academy’s Director of Music since 1971. His full biography is available at


Last updated: Friday, September 11, 2015

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