I have written before about how the extraordinary men and women serving in the US Merchant Marines are an asset to our nation. And my admiration for the US Merchant Marine Academy is no secret.
That’s why on Monday, I was glad to award USMMA Midshipman Aaron Cummings with the United States Merchant Marine Expeditionary Medal for his recent service as Deck Cadet aboard the American President Lines US-flag vessel APL Pearl.
Now, Aaron hails from Beardstown, Illinois, and I actually had the privilege of nominating him to the Academy when I was a Member of Congress. And just to show you what a small world it is, Aaron informed me that I once taught his uncle in junior high school.
He earned the Expeditionary Medal for his contributions while serving aboard a US-flag merchant ship supporting American and international coalition military forces in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Aaron was on the Pearl from March to July 2010, and sailed into ports in many Middle East countries including the UAE, Pakistan, Egypt, and Yemen. He also passed through the Gulf of Aden, the site of recent pirate activity.
We at DOT are very proud of his service.
More recently, Aaron finished up a two-week internship at our Maritime Administration, during which he worked on MARAD’s capital improvement program. And, immediately after finishing up his internship on Tuesday, he headed right back to the Academy to begin classes again on Wednesday!
He’s certainly an example of the kind of hard working, dedicated individuals the USMMA attracts.
I have no doubt that Aaron will finish his final year at the Academy with great success. And I know that he—like all of his classmates—will be a great asset to the Merchant Marines upon graduation.