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LaHood Swears in USMMA Head

Rear Admiral James A. Helis, USMS, was sworn in as the superintendent of the Merchant Marine Academy on Monday.

Hundreds of men in uniform stood at the mouth of the Long Island Sound to salute their new superior in Kings Point on Monday.

Rear Admiral James A. Helis, USMS, was installed as the 12th superintendent of the . He wasn't the only luminary the students stood at attention for.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who appointed Helis, was there to swear him in.

"We had some very good candidates, but we picked the best one," said LaHood.

, having served in the U.S. Army for 30 years. He faught in Afghanistan, and retired as a Colonel. LaHood said he selected the former infantryman and parachutist to oversee the education of future merchant marines because of his distinguished army career, commitment to public service, and academic qualifications.

The new Superintendent's long academic resume includes a Bachelor of Science from West Point, a Master of Arts in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Military Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, and a Doctorate in Philosophy and International Relations from Tufts. He was also a Defense Fellow at Queen's University in Ontario.

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He's also worked for the U.N. Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. In addition to Afghanistan, his military assignments have brought him to Belgium, Estonia, France Haiti, Germany, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstain, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

"Kings Point has served the country for 70 years, and will continue to do that long after each one of us takes out final voyage," said Helis, adding, "I look forward to the great voyage ahead."

In addition to the new superintendent, LaHood announced some other changes at the Academy. As an addition to the old science building which LaHood said had served the campus, "since Edison invented the light bulb," a new one will be constructed. A new vessel will also be coming to campus waters.

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