Monday, December 8, 2014

Military Monday (December 8, 2014) -- A World War II Naval Reserve Commission

As I have mentioned elsewhere on The Prism, my father is a 1944 graduate of Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Great Neck, New York. The site of the Academy is the former 12-acre estate of Walter Chrysler named "Forker House." 

Kings Point was dedicated on September 30, 1943 by FDR, who stated, "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."  From 1942 - 1945, Kings Point graduated 6,895 officers.  During World War II, 1 in 26 merchant mariners were killed while implementing the greatest sealift in history.  This made the percentage of war-related deaths for merchant mariners higher than the percentage in all the other U.S. services -- but the mariner death rate was kept secret during the war so that the enemy would not know what success they were having in targeting supply ships AND so that the nation could continue to attract mariners into service.  

Merchant Marine midshipmen have served in every major conflict in which the U.S. has been involved since WWII and as a result the Kings Point regiment is entitled and privileged to display a regimental battle standard; the USMMA is the only Federal Service Academy granted the right to do so. 

In addition to his service in the Merchant Marine in all the WWII theaters of war, my father held a commission in the Naval Reserve (as shown above).  He was later a LTJG in the Reserve.  

There has always been a special relationship between the USMMA and the U.S. Navy. The Navy has an interest in manning a viable merchant marine that can work in close cooperation with the Navy both in peacetime and while at war.  USMMA graduates have historically served as active duty naval officers in emergencies or during general mobilizations and as a result, the Navy has long maintained a Department of Naval Science at Kings Point staffed by active duty Navy officers.

These days, any applicant to the USMMA also applies for an appointment to the U.S. Navy Reserve -- or any other Reserve of National Guard unit of the armed forces -- and agrees to accept any tendered appointment for at least 8 years following graduation from Kings Point.
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Scan of the original commission in the collection of the author.

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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