KINGS POINT, New York, March 20, 2014 – CAPT John C. Kennedy, Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), has announced that Mr. Thomas F. McCaffery, Class of 1976, will be the speaker at the 2014 Battle Standard Dinner, which will be held on Monday, April 7, 2014. The Battle Standard Dinner is an annual event at USMMA. It is hosted by the first class and honors the memories of the 142 Cadet Midshipmen who lost their lives during World War II.
Mr. McCaffery is the primary researcher for the forthcoming book entitled “Braving the Wartime Seas”. The book is a tribute to the students and alumni of the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps who died during World War II. He is President of McCaffery & Associates, Alexandria, Virginia and has been a full member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers since 1990. With the support of his staff, he has spent thousands of hours researching and writing the story of the lives of the men in “Braving the Wartime Seas”.
For the past fifteen years his business has been researching the history of the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine from the 1930's to the 1970's. As a merchant marine officer he sailed aboard nearly every type of ship that flew an American Flag as a licensed Deck Officer up to and including Chief Mate. In 1981 he, along with other crew members of the T/T Williamsburg, was awarded the Maritime Administration’s Gallant Ship Unit Citation for their participation in the rescue of the survivors for the M/S Prinsendam. A retired Navy Commander, Mr. McCaffery is a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff of the U.S. Naval War College and of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In 2006 he received the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
“We are honored and excited that Mr. McCaffery has accepted the Superintendent’s invitation to speak at this year’s Battle Standard Dinner. He clearly loves this academy, and all that it stands for. Through Mr. McCaffery and his research team, we’re all going to learn a great deal about the lives of the Cadet-Midshipmen who served and sacrificed during the Second World War.”, said CAPT Kennedy.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy is privileged among the nation’s five federal academies to be the only institution authorized to carry a battle standard as part of its Color Guard. The Academy’s battle standard proudly commemorates and perpetuates the memory of the Cadet-Midshipmen who gave the last full measure of devotion in World War II.
During times of war, members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard engage in combat, but the students at their respective service academies do not. The students of USMMA receive an integral part of their training at sea, and in World War II often found their lives in peril as they sailed through enemy-controlled waters or unloaded precious cargo in overseas combat areas. In all, 142 cadet-midshipmen set sail, but never returned to home port. In their memory, the Battle Standard bears the number “142.”