We were incapacitated over here for quite a while, seems the alarms were disabled. Domain has been renewed, and dusting off the cobwebs. Homecoming 2016 is right around the corner, and our 15 year reunion looks like it’s going to be September 16th,2017.
I am amazed by the success that we have in our class. We have Blue Angels, Navy SEAL’s, brewers, masters, mates and pilots, the other kind of pilots, chief engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, etc. etc. etc.
Well add a new item to that list, we will soon have Game Show contestant. Our own John Downing will be matching wits with his arch nemesis Mr. Pat Sajak on April 15th. Check your local listings for time and channel.
Our own Adam La Reau recently gave a guest lecture at Kings Point as part of the Lanier Distinguished Speaker Series. Adam gave an inspirational speech on leadership from his experiences at the Academy and his service as a Navy SEAL. following the speech he was presented with the Academies Light of Leadership Award.
As most of you may have heard the Alumni Association and Foundation was unsuccessful in blocking the eviction attempt. An email notice and posting on their website giving all the updates was sent today. Check out the link below for more details.
With all the drama surrounding the eviction of the Alumni Association and Foundation being evicted from the campus of the Academy, we wanted to do a recap post for everyone to follow what’s been happening.
We’ll try to keep this updated as things develop, but as of last Thursday May 9th the AAF is scheduled to be removed from campus ASAP. There was to be a hearing on Friday the 10th, but we have not yet seen the outcome.
I attended a meeting of my local Alumni Chapter (Central New Jersey) with the Superintendent on Thursday night, and while Mike Gillespie and I had a nice dinner in his company at the same table, we didn’t get much information out of him other than updates on the state of the Academy infrastructure and how they are handling sequestration, (Murphy hall renovations are to be completed soon, Cleveland Hall is next and the final phase of the barracks rehab project, Mallory Pier is scheduled to be completed by next April, The New Kings Pointer is delayed at the shipyard because the shipyard destroyed a line shaft bearing and sequestration cuts, MARAD found a million dollars to bolster payroll so no teachers had to be furloughed).
The superintendent during the Q&A session with the attendees refused to answer questions about the dispute with the AAF. I had hoped for some candid discussion on the issues, and was disappointed that my time was wasted. My personal view is that the current administration in Wiley Hall is not interested in working with the AAF. Your opinion may differ. I initially avoided an emotional response to contact my representatives but after seeing the back and forth I have been in contact with Congressman Lance’s office in NJ 7th district and would encourage others to contact their representatives. The AAF can do its best work on campus, in a situation where they pay minimal rent so our donations to do the maximum good for the Midshipmen.
My personal opinion aside I intended this post as a recap of all information that has been distributed the past couple of weeks.
Here is the link to the original notice from the Alumni Foundation
Here is the response from the Academy
Follow up from the AAF Board of Directors
Update on court ruling
As things continue to develop I will try and keep you all posted.
Congratulations to our our classmate Nate Barton for being selected to the Blue Angels!
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces New Superintendent for U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Says Helis is “ideal fit” to oversee Academy’s future with military, academic experience
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today named Colonel (ret.) James Helis, Ph.D., as the new superintendent for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Helis, a 30-year Army veteran, will begin work at the Academy next month after spending the past eight years as a department chair at the United States War College.
“Colonel Helis is an ideal fit for the Academy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood. “His extensive military and academic experience reflects the Academy’s mission of both training and educating its students to support our country’s maritime needs, and I look forward to working with him to ensure a strong future for Kings Point.”
Since 2004, Colonel Helis has led the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. During his 30 years in the U.S. Army, Colonel Helis served as an Army Ranger and master parachutist and was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, where he served as Chief of Plans for the NATO International Security Assistance Force. His professional foreign travel includes Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Haiti, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden.
“I am deeply honored and very excited about the opportunity to serve at Kings Point,” Colonel Helis said. “I am eager to join the team of faculty, staff, and most of all midshipmen, all of whom daily live by the values of honor, service, and excellence.”
Helis received his Doctorate of Philosophy in International Relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He holds masters degrees from both the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the University of Pennsylvania, and he earned his Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Colonel Helis and his wife, Jan, have two sons, Corbin, 22, a 2011 West Point graduate, and Ian, 18, who joins the Kings Point Class of 2016 this summer.
“Thanks to a thorough search process involving faculty, staff, midshipmen, parents and alumni, we have identified a true leader in Colonel Helis,” said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. “As Superintendent for Kings Point, he will bring energy and experience to our team and will help ensure that the Academy continues to chart a course for future success.”
The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration is responsible for overseeing the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, including the hiring of key Academy positions. As part of the selection process, Colonel Helis also met with a number of midshipmen, faculty and staff from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, as well as alumni and industry leaders.
Continuing with our profiles of the class of 2002, Joseph Willis recently checked in.
After graduation, I started sailing with AMO, as 3rd Assistant on the USNS Soderman. I broke her out of the yard in Nassco so I am an official plank owner on that ship. I sailed 3rd and 2nd Assistant on her for about 4 years. I then switched over to the commercial side of Maersk and worked on slow speed diesels for about 4 years doing the containership thing as 3rd and 2nd Assistant. April of 2009 I was offered my first 1st Assistant job on the USNS Watkins, back on the Gas Turbine LMSRs. Now I am the 1st Assistant on the USNS Watson, another Gas Turbine LMSR. I received my Chief Engineers License in 2010, but right now am totally satisfied as first assistant. It’s a great job. Right now we are in Drydock in Bayonne, NJ.
At home, I married Stephanie in July 2004. We are big into cycling and rode our bikes with a group from Bar Harbor, ME to Niagara Fallas, NY (932 mi). We will be riding around New Mexico when I get home in May approx 700 mi.
We welcomed our first child, Kathryn Scholten Willis on August 10, 2011. She is doing well starting to crawl around and starting to talk a little.
Joe also got promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, and is hoping that if his ship is still stateside in September he’ll be able to make the trip to NY for Homecoming.
We’d like to profile the entire class in the months leading up to the reunion, in order to give everyone a chance to see what we’ve all been up to. If your interested please send us an email letting us know what adventures you’ve been on, and where life has taken you over the past decade. or head to the Vessel Registry to provide us your contact information and we’ll reach out to you. Include some pictures or video. We look forward to hearing from all of you!
The Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet Junior Ship Handler of the Year award was bestowed on King’s Point alumnus Lieutenant Zachary Brown, who currently serves as Assistant Navigator of the 103,300 ton, 1,092 aircraft carrier USS Stennis. LT Brown was selected by his command to represent all aircraft carriers stationed on the West Coast.
“It is a great honor to win this award in such a distinguished field of ship handlers,” said Brown. “I’m sure that it was incredibly tough to pick a winner.”