James William Aird of Massapequa Park recently graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point. Aird earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission in the U. S. Armed Forces. He also earned a Merchant Marine officer license, qualifying him to serve as an officer on any ship in the U.S. flag merchant marine.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of five U.S. federal service academies. It educates and graduates licensed Merchant Marine officers to serve the nation during peace and war. In addition to the rigorous academic and physical requirements for admission, applicants must be nominated by their Congressman or Senator.
All USMMA graduates incur an obligation to serve the United States. The U.S. Flag Merchant Marine—manned exclusively by American mariners—is essential for securing the country’s commerce in peacetime and delivering warfighters, weapons and military supplies in times of conflict. The majority of “Kings Pointers” serve for eight years as Navy reservists in the Strategic Sealift Officer Program while working aboard U.S. flag vessels; others will serve on active duty in our nation’s armed forces.
By virtue of their elite training and real-world experience, graduates are ready to go on day one in service of American military strength and economic power. As part of his four-year education, Aird spent one year training as a cadet aboard ocean-going vessels.
The academy welcomed Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg as the commencement speaker. Buttigieg told the graduates “This Academy, which trains and educates the majority of our Strategic Sealift Officers, is vital to our national security. And the academy, and your service as mariners, SSO’s, and members of the armed forces, might well be as important as ever in our history.” “Now, more than ever, the Merchant Marine Academy is a deeply and enduringly important part of our economic and national security (.)”
—Submitted by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy