America's Admiral: Giles Stedman - Maritime Hero

by Bill Lee

Giles Chester Stedman was born in the sea-faring and shipbuilding town of Quincy, Massachusetts on September 2, 1897. He was the only son of Richard J. and Annie T. Stedman, both of whose parents immigrated to this country from Ireland. His Father was a stonecutter who worked in the world-famous Quincy quarries.

Young Giles Stedman attended public schools in the hills of West Quincy where he was born, and graduated from Quincy High School in 1914. Nick-named “Chet” by his peers, he was a high school baseball star. His year book, which had no pictures of the graduates, did include famous sayings that each member of that class chose. In his case, it was a quote from James Montgomery, an 18th century British poet: “Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive”.

Before reaching his teens, Giles Stedman became fascinated by things nautical. The type of ship that most aroused his interest was the North Atlantic Ocean Liner. His earliest childhood venture with a painting set resulted in his creation of – and, as he remembered it much later in his life: “A rather poor reproduction of the Cunard liner LUSITANIA”.

Giles Stedman’s first maritime-related job was the result of a good deed. In the spring of 1912, he and two companions witnessed the wife of the president of the local shipyard thrown to the ground when her horse stumbled. After they rushed to assist her, the lady’s relieved husband showed his gratitude by offering them summer jobs. Stedman and one of the other boys accepted. Before he attained the age of 15, Giles Stedman was working in the Fore River Ship & Engine Company as a rivet-heater. This hot, dirty and somewhat dangerous job commanded the princely sum of ten cents per hour for a 54-hour work week. That experience, apparently, quenched any thoughts about a shipbuilding career.

As a young boy, Giles Stedman initially entertained thoughts of becoming an engineer. However, by the time he had completed high school, he strongly felt he wanted to go to sea. His family objected strenuously, in part because of the war clouds over Europe at the time. As a compromise, they eventually agreed for him to enlist in the United States Coast Guard, thinking that would keep him close to home and safe. On May 9, 1917, a month after America entered World War I, and a few months before his twentieth birthday, Giles Stedman enlisted in the Coast Guard. After a brief period of training, he was assigned to the Cutter OSSIPEE, where he initially served as ship’s writer. That was the modest start of a lifetime of maritime service highlighted by heroic achievements and numerous accomplishments, which few men have ever experienced.

The OSSIPEE (WPR-50), was built by Newport News Shipbuilding, and completed in 1915. Initially, she served in the coastal waters of New England. In the early summer of 1917, she and her crew were transferred to the United States Navy. Refitted at Boston Navy Yard, she then sailed for Gibraltar in mid-August 1917.

Stedman served from August 1917 to January 1919 in the USS OSSIPEE when she was engaged in convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. That invaluable training in seamanship, boat handling and navigation would serve him well in later years. Before being honorably discharged by the Coast Guard in early 1919, he qualified as a signal quartermaster.

This photograph of Stedman, attired in a Coast Guard Petty Officer’s dress uniform, was probably taken onboard the OSSIPEE, since the background appears to be the towering heights of Gibraltar. It depicts him standing imprudently atop a vessel’s storage box for signal flags. Certainly, his superiors would not have approved, nor would he have condoned such a thing by one of his own subordinates later on in his career.

During Stedman’s service in OSSIPEE, the ship’s commanding officer established a class for prospective officers. A Bureau of Navigation bulletin indicated that enlisted men who could pass the necessary examinations would be commissioned in the Naval Reserve. He and five of his shipmates accepted the challenge, but only Giles Stedman satisfactorily completed the course. As a result, Giles Stedman then became an officer in the reserve.

When his ship returned to the United States in February 1919, and he mustered out, he enrolled the next month in an Officer’s Training Course at MIT. By year-end he had passed the Coast Guard exams for a civilian third mate’s license. Shortly thereafter Giles Stedman entered the nation’s merchant marine, initially serving as third officer on the Garland Lines’ SS GRAYSON.

In 1922, after serving in several additional commercial vessels, he joined the shipping firm that ultimately became the United States Lines. He started out as fourth officer of the passenger vessel SS PRESIDENT HARDING. By June 1925, he had attained the position of First Officer of the HARDING. He was barely 27 by the time.

In early October 1925, the HARDING received a distress message from the Italian cargo ship IGNAZIO FLORIO. She was sinking in a fierce mid-Atlantic storm. Steaming to her rescue, the HARDING’s crew made repeated attempts to pass a lifeline to 28 desperate Italian seamen onboard the FLORIO.

Reluctantly, the HARDING’s captain called for volunteers to man a lifeboat and attempt a daring rescue. Giles Stedman insisted on taking charge of the boat. Described as tall and athletic at age 28, Stedman was already considered a superb boatman. With extreme difficulty, he and his all-volunteer crew made their way slowly to the sinking ship and took off the entire crew. Later, remarking about the lifeboat’s safe return, the HARDING’s captain said: “First Officer Stedman deftly steered the overloaded lifeboat in a raging sea and came alongside the HARDING as if she were a lake boathouse.”

On October 21, 1925, the entire crew of the SS PRESIDENT HARDING was honored by a ticker tape parade in New York City, honoring their heroic rescue work. Thereafter, Stedman served for several years as First Officer in two other US Lines’ passenger vessels, the SS GEORGE WASHINGTON and the SS LEVIATHAN; the shipping company’s largest vessel. For his daring and seamanship, Stedman received metals of honor from Italy and the United States, and the Lifesaving Benevolent Association. In 1926, he also received additional gifts from the citizens of his hometown, including a medal presented to him by a committee of Italian residents. Quincy’s mayor, referring to him as “Chet”, presented Stedman with a suitably engraved gold watch at a testimonial reception and banquet which two of his three younger sisters proudly attended. Giles Stedman’s acceptance remarks were reported as being ‘brief and appropriate’.

During his two years of service as LEVIATHAN’s First Officer, Giles Stedman became well-known as an exceptional navigator. This reputation led to several pioneering aviators of that era seeking his assistance in planning trans-oceanic flights. In 1927 and 1928, he charted courses for four such attempts; two of which were successful. The unsuccessful ones were the result of mechanical failure, not navigational error. While he was serving as First Officer in LEVIATHAN, the huge ship sailed from New York to South Boston in July 1928 for dry-docking to facilitate underwater inspection and repair work. In appreciation of his 1925 rescue efforts, the Italian Government had their chief consul in Boston pin a silver medal to Giles Stedman’s chest. A brief ceremony was held on the LEVIATHAN’s bridge wing in the presence of Stedman’s fellow officers.

On March 27, 1931, at the unusually young age of 33, he was named Master of US Lines’ passenger/cargo vessel, the AMERICAN MERCHANT. On January 20, 1933, while in command of this vessel on a voyage from London to New York, he tersely responded in Morse Code to an SOS from the foundering British steamer EXTER CITY: A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N M-E-R-C-H-A-N-T P-R-O-C-E-E-D-I-N-G S-T-E-D-M-A-N In heavy weather in the mid-Atlantic, he directed the rescue of the sinking ship’s 22-man crew in an unprecedented display of superior seamanship. Since the sea was too rough to risk the lives of a lifeboat crew, Captain Stedman first circled the freighter, pumping fuel oil overboard to somewhat calm the stormy seas. Then, he had a line fired across 400 yards to the fast-sinking freighter. The British sailors utilized this line to pull an empty lifeboat from Stedman’s vessel to their stricken ship. Clambering into the lifeboat, they were then pulled to safety by the crew of the AMERICAN MERCHANT. The AMERICAN MERCHANT resumed her voyage, steaming into New York Harbor on the afternoon of January 26th. She was met by dozens of watercraft, large and small, paying tribute to Stedman’s success. As the AMERICAN MERCHANT moved to her assigned pier, she passed the LEVIATHAN. That ship’s entire crew lined the rails to cheer their former First Officer.

In recognition of his accomplishment, Captain Stedman received numerous awards, including a silver plaque from the British Government, a medal of valor from the City of New York, and the key to the City of Boston. However, the most impressive award he received was the Navy Cross, infrequently awarded in peacetime and almost never to a reserve officer.

The award read as follows:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GILES C. STEDMAN For distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the S.S. American Merchant when that vessel was engaged in the rescue of twenty-two members of the crew of the British freighter Exeter City which was sinking in the mid-Atlantic, on 20 January 1933. Lieutenant Commander Stedman’s excellent seamanship, keen judgment, and professional ability displayed in saving twenty-two lives during a howling wind and a dangerous sea without detriment to his own command is of the highest order and in the best traditions of the Naval Service.

When receiving New York’s medal, Captain Stedman humbly remarked: “I fully realize that in accepting this medal of valor I do so not as an individual, not as one person, but as the representative of the officers and crew of the AMERICAN MERCHANT”. Giles Stedman received over 25 medals and other tangible items in recognition of his successful rescues at sea. In February 1933, Boston’s Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon in his honor that was attended by over 500 people; including relatives and childhood friends of his from nearby Quincy. He received a standing ovation when entering the banquet hall. Behind the head table, a series of full-sized signal flags spelled out in the ‘alphabet of the sea’: WELCOME CAPTAIN STEDMAN.

March 3, 1933 was celebrated in Quincy as Giles Stedman Day by the citizens of his home town. At yet another banquet held in his honor, he received additional gifts, including a bronze barometer crafted for that occasion. But one gift was perhaps particularly meaningful to him, because of its simplicity - and its poignancy... Ball of Granite, Symbolic of City of Quincy, Mass.: "Presented to Giles Chester Stedman as an Everlasting Token of the Pride and Affection of His Native City Quincy, Massachusetts, February 1933." Br> As the son of a stonecutter who had toiled in the Quincy quarries, surely this meant as much to Giles Stedman as his many medals and other more exotic metallic memorabilia. This gift was a miniature reproduction of the much larger granite ball that still sits beside Quincy’s city hall.

The following day, Stedman visited several Quincy schools, including the Willard Grammar School, which he once attended. At a high school assembly, he was characteristically modest, as always, and opened his remarks by saying: “A release from class is probably on your minds as the biggest benefit of my appearance here this morning.”

Stedman later penned an authoritative article, entitled Methods of Rescue at Sea which was widely considered a document of great literary and scientific merit. As a result, a Doctor of Literature degree was conferred upon him by Mount St. Mary’s College of Maryland. This article, plus his epic rescues at sea and navigational expertise earned him another honorary degree in 1934, that of Doctor of Science from Colgate University.

By 1934, Giles Stedman had returned to the LEVIATHAN, serving as ‘staff captain'. This position entitled him to be in command of the vessel whenever her master was on leave. In May of 1935, another article he had authored, Rescue of Crew of a Foundering Vessel, was published in the United States Naval Institute’s Proceedings.

Then, in March 1936, he was appointed Master of the SS WASHINGTON, flagship of US Lines, which had been completed only three years earlier. In November of 1937, and again in June of 1938, Florence Schick, widow of the inventor of Schick razors, was a passenger onboard the WASHINGTON. Giles Stedman, a bachelor at that time, was in command. They were married December 12, 1938, in New York’s Plaza Hotel. They had one child, Jacqueline Ann, born September 15, 1939. Their marriage eventually ended in divorce.

Giles Stedman’s destiny apparently was to be in the right place at the right time, when it came to rescues at sea. In 1939, a U-boat torpedoed the British freighter OLIVE GROVE off the Irish coast after first allowing the vessel’s 33-man crew to take to their lifeboats. WASHINGTON was nearby, and responded to rocket signals, saving the entire crew. Stedman’s wireless report, called a Marconi-gram in those days, was characteristically brief and to the point, and quickly became a classic in the literature of the sea: “Saved 33. Lost None. Injured None.”

Stedman served as WASHINGTON’s Master until the spring of 1940, when he was named as the first skipper of the SS AMERICA, then nearing completion at Newport News Shipbuilding. Stedman spent the spring and part of the summer of 1940 closely watching his future command being completed. He first sailed in her as the Owner’s Senior Representative during two sets of sea trials that were conducted by the shipyard.

AMERICA was delivered to the United States Lines in late July 1940, the largest, finest and fastest luxury liner built up to that time in her namesake country. When she sailed majestically from her builder’s yard into New York harbor, the steamship company’s most experienced and capable Master Mariner, Captain Giles Stedman, was in command.

As exciting as her initial entry was into her homeport of New York, the war clouds over Europe denied AMERICA her destiny: being placed in transatlantic passenger service. Instead, with her neutrality emblazoned on her sides, this brand-new Queen of the American Merchant Marine was relegated to Caribbean Cruises and longer voyages to the West Coast, via the Panama Canal.

On one voyage to California, what was billed as the world’s first ocean-going motion picture premiere took place onboard the AMERICA. In March 1941, while sailing from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the movie Sea Wolf was introduced amidst great fanfare. Several stars of the movie were onboard, including Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield. Both of them visited the ship’s bridge, where they posed for this picture with their host, Captain Stedman. Just the month before, he had been named as Commodore of the entire United States Lines’ fleet, in addition to being the Master of the Company’s flagship.

At age 43, Commodore Stedman was probably the youngest man to ever be given such a title and associated responsibilities. In an attempt to take full advantage of his success, Warner Brothers’ publicists announced at the premiere that a movie about the AMERICA’s captain was in the planning stages. They said that The Captain and His Ship would star George Brent and would be filmed onboard the SS AMERICA. 7 That motion picture was never made, because the AMERICA and Captain Stedman were both ‘drafted’ by the United States Navy weeks later, in late May 1941. Ordered to cut an ongoing Caribbean cruise short and steam directly to her builders’ yard in Virginia, Giles Stedman managed, via radiotelephone, to get the Navy to agree to allow him to first go to New York and discharge his passengers. His last day in command of the AMERICA was June 2, 1941, when he delivered her to the craftsmen of Newport News.

AMERICA was quickly converted to a naval transport and renamed USS WEST POINT (AP-23). Giles Stedman, Commodore of US Lines and AMERICA’s first skipper was ‘demoted’ to the naval rank of Commander and assigned by the Navy as the ship’s Executive Officer. Commander Stedman, in dress whites and with his Navy Cross ribbon prominently displayed, was present on June 15, 1941 at Newport News Shipbuilding where the USS WEST POINT was commissioned. What must have been a humbling experience, no longer master of his command, but required to remain onboard, was made far easier than he might have anticipated by the WEST POINT’s first skipper, Captain Frank H. Kelley. Stedman and Kelley worked together closely and cooperatively to transform America’s greatest ocean liner into the Navy’s biggest and most successful troop transport. As a result, they also became close friends and stayed in touch after the war until Captain Kelley passed away.

Most of the WEST POINT’s plank owners were young naval reservists from New England, with little or no sea-going experience. Working largely behind the scenes, Giles Stedman imparted his years of sea experience and intimate knowledge of the AMERICA to the ship’s navy crew. Stedman stoically did his duty, although it surely must have still rankled a bit, at times.
This photo may have been taken at one of those reflective times while he was on the flying bridge of AP-23, keeping close watch on everything associated with the operation of the USS WEST POINT. Regardless of any personal feelings he may have had, Stedman performed admirably and professionally as the WEST POINT’s first Executive Officer. According to all accounts, he was not only respected but also very well liked by the ship’s company; just as he had been by civilian crews on the numerous ships he sailed in and commanded between the two world wars.

By all accounts, he always ran a tight ship and exhibited a stern demeanor when on duty and in the company of WEST POINT’s enlisted personnel. But in his private life, he was reputedly a modest, self-assured individual. As the WEST POINT’s Executive Officer, Stedman was quick to delegate responsibility, for he fully understood from his own experiences as an enlisted man that learning is best accomplished by doing. Under his guidance, the crew of WEST POINT quickly became proficient. Members of the WEST POINT’s original crew well remember that during abandon ship drills he roamed the Sun Deck, constantly checking on every little detail associated with the launching of lifeboats. After all, safely launching lifeboats was his forte.

On another occasion, just before going into an active war zone, Commander Stedman assembled a small number of seamen in the ship’s steering gear room, remotely located all the way aft on D Deck, directly above the rudder and the ship’s twin propellers. In this cramped, low overhead space, located well below the waterline, he described the series of steps required to disengage the steering engine in case battle damage disabled the engine or its hydraulic controls. Stedman then demonstrated how to attach a system of blocks and tackles to each side of the rudder head so that the WEST POINT could be crudely steered by raw manpower under any extreme conditions that might befall her.

Certainly, this was the mark of a consummate seaman who left absolutely nothing to chance, when it came to keeping his ship, her crew and her passengers as safe as possible under every conceivable circumstance that this remarkable man of the sea could envision.

The WEST POINT’s first overseas mission was a most unusual one and a real challenge to her crew. Ordered to transport 464 Italians and Germans from their shuttered consulates, the ship left New York on July 16, 1941, bound for the neutral port of Lisbon, Portugal. On her return trip to New York, AP-23’s passenger manifest included 321 Americans and 67 Chinese who were consular staffers and their families, plus a number of United States private citizens and civilians from several foreign countries desperate to escape war-torn Europe. The WEST POINT was selected for this task because her staterooms had been initially left largely intact during her conversion work the month before. However, the needs of civilian passengers for the mission required some additional, specialized personnel to be placed onboard AP-23. For this purpose, the Navy contracted with a commercial shipping company for civilians with talents not normally found in the complement of a commissioned naval vessel.

When the WEST POINT left New York, her navy crew was augmented by 164 men and women with distinctly non-military titles such as Stewardess, Hairdresser, Child Nurse, Bartender, Sous Chef, and Kennel Attendant. Dealing with such an unusual group of passengers and a mix of military and civilian crewmembers would have been beyond the capability of most naval officers. But Giles Stedman’s civilian experiences enabled him to handle the situation, organizing numerous activities and announcing them daily in the ship’s newspaper, The Pointer, in order to make his passengers as comfortable as possible, under those decidedly unusual conditions. A few months later, when the attack at Pearl Harbor took place, the WEST POINT was steaming in convoy off the tip of Africa with a full load of British troops originally destined for India. After making a brief call there, AP-23 was diverted further east, into truly troubled waters. In early 1942, the WEST POINT pulled into Singapore harbor and off-loaded her cargo of British troops.

And then, while serving as Executive Officer of the USS WEST POINT; Giles Stedman participated in what was his last and greatest rescue operation. Under frequent enemy air attack, and with Singapore very close to being overrun by Japanese ground troops, he organized the embarkation of approximately two thousand British refugees; mostly civilians and including many women and children. Of course, Captain Kelley’s name is most often mentioned with regard to this dramatic rescue. However, anyone knowledgeable about how a naval vessel is organized and run knows full well that a ship’s Executive Officer masterminds the details of such exploits. Captain Kelley undoubtedly would have been the first to agree.

Relieved as XO of WEST POINT on May 19, 1942, Giles Stedman was named the Commandant of Cadets at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY while that institution was still under construction. Promoted first to the rank of Captain, and then to Rear Admiral in the United States Naval Reserve, Stedman became the second Superintendent at King’s Point in late November 1943. He served in this capacity until March 31, 1946. During his tenure at the Academy, he guided and inspired the 6,600-plus midshipmen who graduated and went to sea to man the ships of an enormously expanded wartime merchant marine. Of all of Giles Stedman’s accomplishments, providing the leadership for the training of these thousands of men during World War II was undoubtedly his greatest contribution to his beloved, sea-faring nation.

Admiral Stedman’s portrait hangs in Wiley Hall, the Academy’s administrative building, along with the portraits of all other past superintendents.

In addition to his pressing duties as Superintendent, he often talked informally to the school’s student body in evening sessions that he liked to call ‘smokers’, even though he was a non-smoker. According to those who were lucky enough to attend those gatherings, Giles Stedman was a bit of a spellbinder; telling tales of his own seagoing adventures and envisioning oceans filled in the post-war period with American-flagged vessels manned by “King’s Pointers”. That now-familiar nickname for midshipmen and alumni alike is one that he reportedly coined.

Admiral Stedman was also instrumental in creating the Academy’s Alumni Association. In appreciation of his efforts, and his commitment to excellence, which has set a standard for generations of midshipmen, that organization has named one of their major donation mechanisms in his honor:
The Giles C. Stedman Society
King’s Point was and still is unique amongst the nation’s military academies. As an integral part of their undergraduate training, midshipmen routinely went to sea during World War II to acquire the skills required, upon graduation, to obtain an unlimited mate’s or engineer’s license from the United States Coast Guard. Consequently, at any one time, hundreds of King Point students were serving in vessels transiting active war zones. Most survived when their ships were sunk, and went right back to sea. Others did not. By the war’s end, 142 King’s Point midshipmen had made the ultimate sacrifice.

In 1943, to help remember and honor them, a bronze relief plaque was placed behind the head table in the center of Delano Hall, the Academy’s dining hall. The names of undergraduate King’s Pointers who had died in defense of their county were periodically added to the plaque throughout the war.

As the list of names grew, Giles Stedman became concerned that it was probably not very good for the digestion or the morale of cadets eating three meals a day in Delano Hall to see the names of friends and classmates constantly being added to the list. So, he ordered that a large painting be created and placed over the plaque. As a suitable subject for display at the Academy, he chose a lovely lady of the sea…the SS AMERICA. The painting shows his last and greatest command entering New York harbor on the morning of July 29, 1940, when she began her long, useful and colorful career.

Artist Howard B. French created this spectacular 17-foot high by 12- foot wide painting that remains there today, in appropriate remembrance of both the AMERICA and of her first skipper. Nearby, in the American Merchant Marine Museum, the builder’s plate, brass bell and numerous other artifacts from the SS AMERICA are also appropriately displayed.

Returning to civilian life and to the United States Lines in 1946, he became the Company’s Vice President of Pacific Operations. Stedman became chief of all of US Lines’ foreign operations in 1955, and was named a director of the nation’s premiere steamship company in 1958.

In addition to his work for United States Lines overseas, in 1947 he was appointed as the Far Eastern Baseball Commissioner for the American Baseball Congress. He subsequently was instrumental in setting up baseball leagues in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines. This activity was due to his longtime interest in baseball, dating back to the 1920s when he frequently attended major league games whenever his ship was in New York. His relationship with athletics is further perpetuated by the Admiral Giles C. Stedman Trophy.

This beautiful award is presented annually at the US Merchant Marine Academy to a graduating first class male athlete for demonstrated athletic excellence throughout his career. The trophy signifies the highest in achievement, sportsmanship and general excellence in athletics.

Between 1922 and 1957, immigration records indicate that Giles Stedman arrived in New York as a civilian seafarer after crossing the Atlantic westbound an amazing 273 times. In addition to an equal number of eastbound trips, he also sailed into New York numerous times from other points of European origin. During the time he served in WEST POINT, he made several additional overseas voyages, including one hazardous around-the-world trip in 1941. Immigration records also show that he was often a passenger on other vessels in his post-war travels to the Orient.

In his last years of service to US Lines, Giles Stedman traveled frequently to Europe. On at least two occasions, in 1955 and 1956, he sailed from Southampton to the United States onboard the SS AMERICA. He may very well have sailed in AMERICA additional times, but immigration records after 1957 are not readily available. How enjoyable it must have been for him to sail again in the ship he first skippered in 1940. Almost certainly, some of the officers on the AMERICA in the 1950s were peers or prior protégés of his, and Giles Stedman undoubtedly would have been privileged to spend unlimited time on the bridge; something no other passenger would have ever been permitted to do, regardless of VIP status. He may even have conducted a few sea-going ‘smokers’ as well…

At the end of those voyages, when he departed AMERICA, he surely must have looked back and savored scenes such as this one. Two decades before, Giles Stedman had written an article entitled ‘The Captain Loves the Sea’ for Collier’s Magazine. However, it was not a recitation of his personal exploits; rather, it was more of a ‘how to’ piece; created for the benefit of novices entertaining thoughts of trans-Atlantic travel at the height of the passenger liner era. In the lengthy article, published on June 22, 1935, he talked about such practical things as how to select a ship in which to travel. His principal advice was to do so based on the reputation of the ship’s chef; not that of the ship’s captain! He also eloquently extolled the virtues of being at sea in ‘cabin class’ ships, such as WASHINGTON, that were a bit slower than foreign lines’ blue-ribband greyhounds. In his own words, drawn from that lengthy article:

“Your crossing may take a day or two longer, but you’d be glad of it. Walk on deck, alone, in the hour after dinner when the sea is opalescent and open your soul to the understanding of sunset at mid ocean. Then you may come to love the sea as I have loved it since the day, long ago, when I presented myself to my first captain and was so overawed that I began to salute rapidly with both hands!”

AMERICA’s Admiral conducted business in London and made his home there for a few years before passing away there as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 10, 1961. Still in the employ of US Lines, Giles Chester Stedman, Rear Admiral, USNR (Retired) was only 63. The next day, the Mayor of Quincy ordered the flags at city hall lowered to half-staff in memory of him. An extensive obituary in the New York Times summarized his lengthy career, highlighting his valor at sea in war and peace, and particularly noting his rescue work. The operation he directed in 1933 which earned him the Navy Cross was retold in detail, and was referred to as ‘a masterpiece of marine performance’.

Understandably, for Giles Stedman was a masterpiece of marine performance. Any member of our military who has been awarded the Navy Cross is entitled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Accordingly, Admiral Stedman was interred there on April 18, 1961. A funeral mass was held the day before in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a Requiem Mass was conducted in London on the day of his burial. His final resting place is marked by one of those tens of thousands of simple, yet eloquent gravestones that cover the rolling hills of this hallowed ground in precise formation. STEDMAN, GILES C



DATE OF BIRTH: 09/02/1897 DATE OF DEATH: 04/10/1961

Appropriately, and quite likely at his own request, Giles Stedman was laid to rest in a section of the cemetery which overlooks the United States Coast Guard Memorial. Inscribed on that impressive monument are the names of all of the Coast Guard sailors lost at sea during World War I. 14 ~ POSTSCRIPT ~ The story of AMERICA’s Admiral is a particularly inspiring one, in my humble estimation, and a ‘must-share’. Not because of my months of research and repeated drafts that have led to this fairly comprehensive telling of Admiral Giles Stedman’s life story and of his many accomplishments, but simply because it’s a truly great story about a real-life American hero. Years ago, through books, my Father introduced me to such heroic figures as the fictional Captain Horatio Hornblower and the US Navy’s famous salvage expert – Admiral Edward Ellsberg. They quickly became my boyhood heroes as I systematically read of their adventures. Stedman and Ellsberg were contemporaries and kindred spirits….men of the sea. Each one contributed much to the rich maritime history of our nation. While Stedman was somewhat less prolific than Ellsberg, who wrote seventeen books, Giles Stedman did write, and write instructively and well, of his exploits. A recent discovery of the articles Stedman penned in the 1930s provided me much of the heretofore uncombined story of his life. Three chapters of a book long out of print about rescues at sea provided exhaustive details about Giles Stedman’s trio of epic sea rescues. As I read those passages, I was magically transported back to my youth when I shared, albeit only vicariously, in such adventures; soaking up nautical terms and stirring passages, such as: “Stedman bent at the steering sweep, flexing, standing, a strong figure swaying against the background of a raging sea. ‘Way! Give way together, boys!’ he shouted.” It’s never too late to acquire new heroes, and now I have another one. AMERICA’s Admiral : GILES CHESTER STEDMAN I am indebted to several organizations and individuals for greatly assisting me in this quest: • Martin Skrocki and Donald Gill, United States Merchant Marine Academy • Linda Beeler, Thomas Crane Public Library of Quincy • Richard Rabbett, SS United States Conservancy • Doug Sterner, Home of Heroes Museum • John Dion, USS WEST POINT Plank Owner • Liz Willis Neger and Mary McAvoy Zimmer, Daughters of US Lines Executives Their invaluable assistance gave new meaning to the quotation Stedman selected in 1914: “Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive”. In addition, I had the pleasure of being able to share this story and its extensive background material with Michael Stedman Wyatt, grandson of Giles Stedman. Mike and a twin brother were not born until the year after their Grandfather passed away. Before I made contact, they knew very little about their grandfather’s varied career. They proudly know a great deal more now. Finding and sharing has so many wonderful rewards! Bill Lee November 2008 15

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
Changes at MarAd??

This article is also from MarEx, concerning one our fellow grads....

Connaughton to Head Federal Maritime Commission?

President Bush signals his intent to nominate MARAD's most effective administrator in recent memory to another federal post; announcement leaves industry observers wondering if, how and why…

In case you missed the news – and I am quite sure that you didn't – President George Bush has announced on Tuesday his intention to nominate MARAD Administrator Sean Connaughton to be Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission and upon appointment, designate Chairman. The nomination is a good one and in general terms, potentially seats a commissioner who has an excellent grasp of the maritime business. But, according to several well-placed Washington insiders, the news also should be filed under the general heading of, "Not so fast…"

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Connaughton could serve out the remainder of a five-year term, expiring in June of 2012. And, with just four months left on the likely balance of his tenure as U.S. Maritime Administrator, the move would make a lot of sense for Connaughton – and U.S. maritime policy in general. In terms of stature, the position is probably a small step up in terms of influence, especially if he is named Chairman. But MarEx sources in Washington this week said that as good a choice as Connaughton might be for the role, he is unlikely to get a hearing before the Congressional recess at the end of September. After that, Democrats who control the fate of the nomination would be unwilling in any event to hold a hearing before the new President is sworn in. Here's why:

Typically, the makeup of the commission includes two Republicans and two Democrats, along with a chairperson. Currently, with two openings, the Democrats enjoy a majority on the commission, until the next two seats are filled. Even assuming that the two vacancies could be filled before the New Year, it is unlikely that Senate Democrats would be willing to put a GOP nominee in the driver's seat until 2012. As one observer, who did not want to be identified, put it, "The timing is not good and the dynamics, even worse."

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent regulatory agency responsible for the regulation of oceanborne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S. The principal statutes or statutory provisions administered by the Commission are: the Shipping Act of 1984, the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988, section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, and Public Law 89-777. Now, I don't know what all of that means exactly, but I am told that in simple terms, the FMC is the national regulatory body that controls the "competitiveness of ocean shipping."

Taking it a step further, the FMC is a body that takes its fair share of criticism from a number of different fronts. Its perceived effectiveness as a regulatory organization varies from place to place and certainly, this depends on where you sit in the overall marine transportation picture. But, at the end of the day, the general makeup of the commission makes it somewhat of a partisan vehicle. And, in this case, that's a shame.

While it still remains to be seen what will happen, Sean T. Connaughton is the kind of guy that the U.S. government probably ought to hang onto for a while. To be sure, and in four months or so, he'll catch on somewhere. But, if it is not at the federal level involved in maritime affairs, then industry will have lost exactly the kind of advocate that, over time, they've come to know, expect and appreciate at MARAD. – MarEx.

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
Unraveling the Day - the Coast Guard's Definition

This article is written bu Andy Hammond, found recently in the MarEx Nesletter, Sept. 11, 2008.

WHAT A DAY!: Coast Guard "Sea Service" Rules Decoded

Licensing and Documentation expert Andy Hammond explores Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 10.103 (Definitions) and, specifically, how a DAY is used to calculate the amount of experience a mariner has on a particular vessel.

Such a simple word with so many complex and historical meanings! In its most basic scientific explanation, a DAY is a unit of time equivalent to 24 hours. Historically this also represented the time it takes the earth to spin once on its axis. Since going to Atomic time in 1955 and standardized by the United States Naval Observatory, time and thus a DAY, is quite an exact science. Without getting too technical, time is now measured by atomic resonance frequencies. So much for a simpler time when a Day meant from Sunrise to Sunset!

What does a DAY have to do with mariners and licensing? In conducting several thousand evaluations for the Coast Guard over the years, this question arises almost daily! (No pun intended) How many hours does it take to make a "DAY" of sea service? What if I'm underway for 24 hours? What if I sleep on my boat? All valid questions. The definition of a "DAY", as it pertains to Coast Guard licensing, can be found in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 10.103 (Definitions). In short, a DAY is used to calculate the amount of experience a mariner has on a particular vessel. The Coast Guard does not use hours or nautical miles, it uses a "DAY".

There have been many discussions on what a DAY is. Many will tell you that to be credited with one day of service, anything over 4 hours is fine. While this may be the new norm in licensing circles, the Coast Guard's definition is not that clear nor is it that liberal. A DAY is defined in the regulations as "8 hours of watch standing or day working, not to include overtime".

I am not sure why the Coast Guard is concerned with the contractual arrangements of a mariner and his or her employer, but for some reason, OT is clearly stated. Historically it may have stemmed from some specific incident in which a mariner was trying to gain as much experience as possible in the shortest period of time and some casualty, caused by fatigue may have occurred. One way to combat that may have been to add this provision into the definition to take away that incentive.

Although speaking from experience, when a mariner is at sea and OT is made available, you take it! We all called on the sea as a profession for different reasons, but if you're out on a ship, you worked as hard and as long as you could to make as much money as possible.

The definition goes on to state that "where a 12-hour workday is authorized and practiced, such as a six on-six off watch schedule, each workday MAY be creditable as one and a one half days of service". The Coast Guard has traditionally reserved this credit for segments of the maritime industry that it knows stand this type of watch rotation. Mariners employed on Tug Boats, Dredges, and Offshore Supply Vessels have traditionally been granted this extra time without question. However, this too has begun to change with challenges by mariners and Coast Guard personnel alike. There are many segments of the maritime community that often "work" more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period. Commercial Fisherman, Ferry Boat Crew, Small Passenger Vessels, and others have clearly documented that this credit should be granted. Even in the traditional "deep draft" world where mariners work a three-watch system, a "Day" is not simply standing 8 hours of watch. It never has been.

Getting back to the 4-hour issue and where that came from. The last line in the definitions is the source of this confusion. The regulations states "On vessels of less than 100 gross tons, a day is considered as eight hours unless the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection determines that the vessel's operating schedule makes this criteria inappropriate, in no case will this period be less than four hours". It is clear to me that the intent of this line was to allow mariners who worked on vessels in which an 8-hour day was not practical to seek a waiver, by the OCMI on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the evaluator (who represents the OCMI) would determine that this criterion was met before crediting a "DAY" for anything less than 8 hours. In no case should they credit anything less than 4 hours. I don't interpret this definition as a blanket approval for all mariners, on all vessels getting a day of credit for 4 hours of service. IF that was the true intent, then why only a day and a half for a 12 hour day? Why not 3 days credit?

While there are many things to lose sleep on these days, this certainly isn't one of them. However, when calculating your time, in DAYS, be careful how you document your experience and know that the U. S. Coast Guard's definition of a DAY is not such a simple and clearly defined amount of time! Unlike the Naval Observatories Atomic Clock!

• About (Captain) Andrew Hammond
Andy Hammond graduated from Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1986 and sailed as an Officer in Charge of a Navigation Watch on various merchant ships until 1994. He then took a position with the U. S. Coast Guard as a Marine Inspector in the Port of Boston. In 1998, he took over as the Senior Inspector of the Regional Examination Center (REC) in Boston until he retired in 2006. Today, he serves the Boston Harbor Pilot Association as their Executive Director and continues to assist mariners as a licensing and documentation consultant through his firm, Maritime Consulting LLC ( Additionally, Hammond is qualified as a Coast Guard approved instructor at two approved training institutions.

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
USMMA at 100% Licensing Level


from MAREX Newletter,8/28/08

Licensing Rates for U.S. Maritime Academy Graduates Declining

Only Kings Point and Michigan boast 100 percent performance; overall licensing rate for state academies falls to 59 percent.

Graduation and mariner licensing data released this summer by the U.S. Maritime Administration has revealed a worrisome trend at the nation's six maritime academies. According to spreadsheets provided by MARAD in 2007 and 2008, the cumulative licensing rate for maritime academy graduates has fallen to just 59 percent for this year's classes. Last year, that percentage was closer to 61 percent. The trend flies in the face of a critical worldwide shortage of qualified mariners and gives every indication that the problem will only get worse in the near term.

Only two academies, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point and the Great Lakes Maritime Academy boast 100 percent of their graduates in a license track, with Texas A&M University at Galveston not far behind. Even with 13 more total graduates (856) in this calendar year, the total number of those choosing Coast Guard certification fell by 12 individuals. MARAD hopes to improve on those numbers, partly by increasing (effectively doubling) Student Incentive Payments (SIP) to cadets. That financial aid comes with caveats, however. Students in the SIP Program receive quarterly financial subsistence for a maximum of 4 years. In exchange for financial educational assistance the SIP students incur a national service obligation. Maritime Service compliance System (MSCS) track students participating in the SIP Program must then fulfill their national service obligation.

The migration of curriculum at many of the maritime academies has occurred gradually over the years, partly as a way to survive in an era (now past, apparently) when ship billets were scarce and graduates found it increasingly difficult to go to sea for a living. As the need for mariners has once again ramped up, however, the corresponding migration back into license programs has not kept pace. Instead, shoreside programs such as stationary powerplant operations and industrial safety careers are gaining increasing popularity.

Kings Point cadets (211 this year), of course, all earn a license, a degree and take a reserve commission in exchange for their four year education. Only months after graduation ceremonies were held on campuses across the nation, approximately 85 percent of 2008 graduates with merchant marine licenses from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and six state maritime academies have found employment afloat in the maritime industry or in the U.S. military, according to data released by the Maritime Administration today.

"This data indicates that the job market for merchant marine officers remains robust. There is a growing, worldwide demand for fully-trained merchant marine officers and licensed mariners. Excellent training combined with ongoing global trade expansion will continue to make the graduates of U.S. maritime colleges among the most qualified and employable mariners in the world," said U.S. Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton.

The Maritime Administration operates the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and provides funding and training ships to Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Texas Maritime Academy, California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, and the State University of New York Maritime College.

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
Update of Academy Changes

Ed. Note: This piece amplifies and adds information to the previously posted piece (below).

On Mon, 8/18/08, Donald R. Yearwood wrote:

From: Donald R. Yearwood
Subject: Re: [KP61] Difficult Times at Kings Point
Cc: "CNJ chapter KP" , "Kings Point Group"
Date: Monday, August 18, 2008, 3:05 PM

This came to KP Yahoo previously via Mike Morrow and I previously received it from others.

It is certainly off base with regard to the alumni association and, as a director at the time, I though you would know that. See my previous reply below and that of Jim Shirley.

Like most of the information circulating about Kings Point I find there is some factual information, some incorrect information and some I just don't know about. It appears to me that the e-mail is relatively factual regarding the administration at Kings Point (although not without opinion injected), somewhat off base with reference to the AA (no financial collapse, no consulting company and Gene was not fired) and contains other opinions of which I have no first hand knowledge.

I do find the opinion well written and thoughtful (unlike some of the others which have been cir culating) and note that the author does indeed put his name on the document.

Thanks for passing it along.

This contains many errors based on what we learned on graduation day in meetings of past alumni chairmen with Sean, Joe, and Chris. Much sounds like the rumors that triggered those meetings. Much has some basis in fact, but either goes too far or not far enough. Things are not as bad as the memo makes them sound. The truth is much simpler.

Don is correct about the AA issues. Gene resigned. I tried to talk him out of doing that because I believed, and still do, that Ivy needed him to guide her through the financials. That has been a difficult process for her. However, there was never risk of financial collapse. There was an unrestricted funds balance problem, as there almost always is (despite measures we tried to put in place in 2003 to fix that) and there were some issues of whether some funds that had been restri c ted by the Board and then had the restriction lifted so they could be used for unrestricted fund purposes had in fact been meant by the donors to be restricted.


While e-mails are a great way to communicate they generate many new issues including the rapid spreading of rumors, opinions as facts and general verbal, pictorial and illogical garbage. Particularly annoying is these latter categories of information as it relates to the USMMA. A week or so ago a graduate circulated his lengthy views in foul language and in unbelievable English for a college graduate. His comments were in my view not at all well grounded and libelous. At the end of last year I suggested that the alumni association begin a "KP SNOPES" site in en effort to dispel some of the rumors, accusations and other silliness that modern electronics allows one to shoot all around relative to the Academy.

I'd like to suggest that people check facts before passing o n stuff like this to avoid wasting the time of all of us who have better things to do; to avoid biasing people's view and to insure that information reported is relatively correct. In the case of the USMMA I'd be happy to try to check things out and I am sure that there are others including Peter Rackett, Fred Wolke, Steve Kramer, etc. who would be glad to shed light on issues.

Don Yearwood

Frederick Wolke wrote:
Hi Guys,

I know you have head a lot about the difficult times we are now facing at the the Academy and Alumni Foundation. In this respect, I am forwarding the below Email message for your information. You may remember that Greg Sacks was a guest speaker at our 2006 May meeting and gave us an impressive presentation on "Alternative Energy" at KP and it's future.

His thoughts and comments are well thought out and in line with what I know. I am sure this will give you a better understanding of our problems.

Frederick R. Wolke, President

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
USMMA Difficult Times, August 08

Editor's Note: What follows is an open letter from a fellow alumnus and former teacher at KP. The letter contains factual information and some editorializing. At this time there is a new CEO for the USMMA Foundation, Mr. John Connolly, and a new CFO. Mr. Peter Rackett holds the posiiton of VP, Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving (Class Gifts, etc.). We apologize if you are not able to link directly to the Senate report.

I can assure you that the broad view presented here does not register with the general ranks of the midshipmen, except that they know there are winds of change. I believe it is still important for we as Alumni to support them through donations to support programs that the government is unable to. Our chapter traditionally has and will continue to support the M/N Morale Fund and Waterfront Activities with your membership dues and other donations.

Like the author, I remain optomistic that there will be good outcomes. Otherwise, I would not be chairing my Class of 1983 Homecoming Gift Campaign... Thanks to Stacy Reese for forwarding this.- SWO

2 August 08
Dear USMMA friends,

As many of you know, I had been teaching at the USMMA for several years. After 3+ years, in November of 07 I left to help build a clean energy company based on the South Shore of Long Island. I have, however, been very close to the affairs of the school, and feel compelled to give my friends and classmates an update on some difficult times.

This whole narrative emerged as a response to a friend asking about affairs at the USMMA. I then realized that many of you may not have heard much of anything about what is really going on lately. Thus I ended up typing much more than I had originally intended. I suppose I have been so close to it over the last several years, and really wanted to get it written down. You are welcome to forward it on, BUT please know that these are just my opinions and observations, which are accurate only to the best of my understanding. This short update is ultimately intended to give a positive message. I have also tried to address these things rather carefully. The question for us (alumni) is what to do next ? Okay, moving forward..

So yes, there haven't been good times for our school of late. But based on my experience and time there, I truly hope the best will emerge. In the final conclusion, these may be the best thing that has happened in years.

In short, there has been a financial stand-down at the Academy. Not small stuff, but very major in the last 2 months or so.

Essentially all NAFI positions which were performing services which a government service member could otherwise do, were cited as illegal, and all have been essentially fired. (NAFI stands for "non appropriated funding instrument". NAFI funds are those the Academy gets which aren't appropriated by congress. A NAFI employee is not a government worker.) The concept here is that, as a government school, government people should be used to perform such work. Sample positions include much the entire DoIT department (Department of Information Technology), all athletic coaches, and a wide array of other service positions at the school. I understand nearly 30 positions in all are affected. They have, however, replaced many of the NAFI positions under the "civil/government" umbrella, but it is not an easy transition, and simply not enough Government funding is available to cover them all (generally they are much more expensive positions).

The "squeeze" really began over the last few years (starting in ~2006) when Congress continually failed to pass a budget. This means that a "Continuing Resolution" goes into effect, resulting in allowed spending of 80% of the budget which was approved the previous approved year. Year after year congress repeatedly failed to pass Bush's budgets, meaning consecutive years of CR's. To date, the USMMA is still operating under a CR. The war in Iraq and slipping economy haven't helped the USMMA get adequate funding.

The recent problems started with the use of "capitol funds" (ie, money for rebuilding barracks according to the school's "master plan") to pay for people and services. I understand that this is a cardinal sin in government -- the use of money from one pot to serve another with out permission. Eventually DOT got wind of the details, started probing, and ultimately exposed 10+ years of fuzzy books and bad accounting practices. However, MARAD has been approving this practice for years!

This is in addition to USMMA Alumni Association difficulties, which have been hidden very well. Essentially, the Alumni Association was recently on the brink of financial collapse. A consulting firm was hired to come in and re-architect the entire operation and organization, which included the firing of Gene McCormick (the director at the time), and the laying off of numerous other positions. As I understand it, Peter now has the helm, and is keeping things on track.

Back to DOT related issues, in the most recent development, Stewart was forcefully pushed into retirement (tenure ends at end of this August 08), and McMahon (Deputy Superintendent) has been "repositioned" immediately (aka, each were gently fired by the DOT). Not to mention, that other employees are apparently leaving the school "left and right".

I personally cannot claim to be much different than them, which makes this all the more complicated for me. After more than 3 years in a faculty tenure track, I still left, seeing that my program wasn't going to get any support in the near future. I believe that it will in time, but not soon. Our company recently hired Tom Bussi from the machine shop, a good but difficult thing for me to do, knowing the great value "Chief Warrant Officer Bussi" brought to our school. Right now we need good people stick around, not leave..

While I don't wholly agree with this report, because it was written by people who really don't understand what kind of pressure the school has been under to make due with little they have gotten for funding, it is still pretty shocking language.. This is a Congressional report, and about as public as you can get.

See excerpts from the 110TH CONGRESS, 2d Session, SENATE REPORT 110–418. (Abbreviated as attached, full report below.)

Information about MARAD starts on page 133, the USMMA specific stuff starts on page 135.

So our school is undergoing a GAO (Government Accounting Office) audit. I hope and pray that they are intelligent people and realize the story behind the story.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that we (the USMMA) are suffering from years of general ineptitude, including an identity crisis (aka, what should our mission be in these changing times), inability to play REAL politics in Washington (aka getting known, earmarks, and adapting as necessary), and inability to make the right difficult decisions at the school (including promoting good/bad faculty and staff, proper marketing and recruitment, etc). I personally have a lot of respect for Stewart and McMahon, because I truly believe they understood the problems ahead, and did their best under the conditions given to them. But now they have been ousted, for better or worse. If you haven't heard, Captain Wallischeck is no longer at the waterfront, and now senior staff. He is doing an impressive job, and holding the fort down, with select others.

Another root cause is being stuck under MARAD with no real USMMA champion in Washington at all.(!) MARAD seems generally powerless, and is essentially a shell organization, whose primary mission is subsidizing Jones Act ships, etc. (Where was MARAD during the Dubai-World fiasco ? Why has the CG taken over many functions that arguably should be under MARAD ? .. These are rhetorical questions.) I understand that more than half of MARAD's budget is the USMMA alone. MARAD is getting slapped pretty hard as part of this fallout also.

We (the alumni) know that the school has potential to be a true "Tier One" university/Academy, but we also know how nearly impossible it seems to make it a reality.. Essentially a comprehensive gutting the entire way the school operates is likely necessary. It seems a completely new "branding" and culture must take place at the school, and realistic funds must be appropriated to accomplish what it actually needs to do.

The school is about to hire an entirely new set of senior staff. Of course, this could be good or bad, depending on so many factors. The next few years will be crucial as the school goes through this complete reforming of itself.. it may emerge on the trajectory of the school we want it to become, or it may crumble.

But, as mentioned at the beginning of this narrative, and being an optimist, I truly believe that the events of late, culminating in the Congressional Report and the GAO audit, may be the best thing that has ever happened to our school, at least in the last 10 to 15 years.

There is no real clear next step, if nothing else to support our Alma Mater morally. If I find out more, I will certainly sharhele. I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing many of you at the next homecoming events.

Sincere regards,
(Name withheld)

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
USMMA Gets A Top Rating??

Top 10 Schools with the Least Happy Students

Article provided by The Princeton Review

So, they may not be full of smiles and high fives, but it's because these hardworking students have decided that buckling down now means enjoying the spoils a little later in life. The Princeton Review's survey of 120,000 college students for "The Best 368 Colleges: 2009 Edition" revealed the top 10 schools with the least happy students. Read excerpts from the students' responses to the survey below.

1. United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, N.Y.)
"Producing the highest caliber of professional mariners in terms of character and ability" is what it's all about at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The USMMA is not a carefree experience; the workload is intense. Life at USMMA is rugged and highly regimented. It's especially difficult for first-year students (called "plebes"), who "are on lockdown most of the time" and "who clean everything. Rather than having a janitor service for the barracks, the plebes clean, and if cleaning isn't done well, we get in trouble with the upperclassmen." While many underclassmen jokingly compare the plebe experience to being "in jail," they also praise the way the experience of being a plebe molds character. All students participate in a daily regimen of reveille, morning inspection, colors, classes, muster, more classes and drills. Another thing that makes the hard work worthwhile is the prospect of "incredible options when you graduate."

Students who considered United States Merchant Marine Academy also looked at United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy and United States Military Academy.

Ranked behind KP,in the top 10, are: NJIT, SUNY Stonybrook, Fisk U., Tuskeegee U., UC Riverside, USCGA, NMIM&T, SUNY Albany, Illinois IT.

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
KP Government Funding Seeks Boost

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As you may know the Academy has been dealing with some significant funding issues. These were addressed by the Academy at the recent Congressional Board of Visitors meeting

I am told the Senate just marked up the Academy authorization bill and added, yes added, $27M to the Academy budget (total of $79M), including $21M to complete the dorm project. This was spearheaded by Sen.'s Inouye and Lautenberg who spoke up at the Congressional Board of Visitors meeting with MARAD, DOT and the Academy Senior Staff. Sen. Lautenberg had done his homework and wanted DOT to explain why West Point was getting $450 per graduate vs. our $206 when we were probably giving the better education. They were ACTA NON VERBA.

The House visitors unfortunately supported the Administrations request for $62M which cut the Construction Budget from $17M to $8M with a slight kicker in salary line. This will delay the barracks rehab at least another year if not more. Three New York Reps - Carol McCarthy, King and Israel as well as the Representative from Guam and Gene Taylor are on the Board of Visitors from the House.

While this is not the appropriations bill, it does lay the necessary groundwork for the next step. The Academy is hopeful that the Senate version will prevail.


-- Donald R. Yearwood
Sanborn Yearwood & Associates
651 Ranger Court
Davidsonville, MD 21035
Tel & Fax: 410-956-8940
Cellular: 443-822-1033

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter
Alumni Foundation Supports "Belated Thank You to Merchant Marines of World

From Ivy Suter Foundation Board Chairwoman

I want to make you aware of a letter I sent, on behalf of the Foundation, to The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. This letter requests positive action on S. 961 for the "Belated Thank You to the Merchant Marines of World War II Act of 2007." We have approximately 2800 Kings Point Alumni who would be covered by this legislation. If you would also like to help, please write to your Congressmen to voice your support. Many Kings Point volunteers, including the Foundation's Government Affairs Committee, have been devoting many hours to keep this legislation alive. A copy of my letter is provided below for your information.


The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka
Chairman, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Senate Russell Building
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This letter is in reference to your committee's consideration on May 7, 2008, of S. 961, "Belated Thank You to the Merchant Marines of World War II Act of 2007." I am Chairwoman of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation. As an organization of alumni of the Federal Academy, we very strongly support S. 961 and thank you for taking this bill under consideration. Many of our fellow alumni are members of the greatest generation and the recognition for their heroics contained in this bill is well deserved.

During the war, many Americans and persons of other nations made sacrifices to attain the victory. We graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy are proud of all our maritime colleagues who served in the merchant marine; we are especially proud of the midshipmen who gave their lives. Every year, we honor the 142 midshipmen who sailed on U.S. merchant ships and went down on those ships as they were attacked by the enemy. Many other mariners lost their lives. Today, there are discussions as to the number of mariners who were exposed to combat. While academic discussions may take place, it is incontrovertible that sailing on the blue ocean in the face of the enemy was a singular heroic act multiplied many times. Due to the passage of time, those who were lost in the war, or lost afterwards to injuries sustained in action and those who have passed in the intervening years will not benefit from actions that we take now. The cadre of those who served is dwindling and we support the passage of S. 961 to provide the "Belated Thank You." We note with some pleasure that the veterans' organizations testifying before your committee uniformly supported the intent of S. 961 in providing the recognition to the merchant marine. Several noted the level of recognition as being disproportionate. We believe that the level is commensurate with the belated aspects of the recognition. Many mariners, as noted above, are no longer with us. Providing a meaningful level of recognition to those who are able to benefit is fitting. We also note the testimony of the Veterans' Administration that S. 961 calls for "concurrent eligibility." We disagree as the current benefits are for burial and medical needs; neither can be duplicated. They also note that other groups could claim similar benefits. We have reviewed the list identified and do not find any group that has the number of persons subjected to combat at the level of the merchant marine; moreover, we believe that any other group or persons in a situation similar to our colleagues should have the opportunity to plead their case. If honorable service was given, it is right to provide proper consideration.

Mr. Chairman, thank you and your committee for taking the time to address this long neglected aspect of our nation's victory in World War II. We strongly urge you to take positive action on S. 961.

We respectfully request that this letter be made a part of the hearing record.

Sincerely yours,

Ivy B. Suter
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Foundation
Class of 1978

USMMAAA Jacksonville Chapter