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RMA Presents: “After 80 Years, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Looks to the Future.”

By Frank Scarpa

Vice-Admiral Joanna M. Nunan spoke about the history and current importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to our nation’s military and maritime leaders.

At the January 31 meeting of the RMA John Craine introduced Vice-Admiral Joanna M. Nunan, the first woman superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Admiral Nunan was born in Bridgeport. She attended Lauralton Hall and graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, beginning a 35-year career in the Coast Guard. During that time, she earned an M.B.A. from R.P.I.

The Merchant Marine Academy (also known as “King’s Point”) was founded in 1943, in the middle of WWII. From the beginning, the Academy’s mission has been “to educate and graduate leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed merchant marine officers in the Armed Forces.” Its motto is “Acta, non Verba” (“Deeds, not Words”). This is the only Academy to have lost underclassmen (midshipmen) in combat: 142 sophomores died at sea during WWII.

This June, 216 students are scheduled to graduate. Of those, one fourth may choose to continue their careers in other branches of the Armed Forces. The other three fourths may enter civilian life, but they must serve eight years in the reserves. The academic path for midshipmen involves three years of academic studies and one year at sea. Bachelor of Science degrees are awarded in five disciplines, all concentrated on marine/maritime engineering, transportation, or logistics. Admiral Nunan provided a narrative of the physical history of the Academy from the original purchase of the “Chrysler Mansion” at King’s Point in 1942 to purchase of adjoining properties over the ensuing 18 months. The Merchant Marine itself proved to have been essential to the war efforts of the Allies. Constant support and resupply were and are critical to sea warfare. Our prosperity as a nation depends upon maritime trade.

Admiral Nunan briefly digressed to provide a painful account of a sexual assault that came to light in September of 2021. In an emotion-laden voice, she recounted the blog account of a female midshipman who had been raped while on sea duty. Subsequently, over 50 more women came forth to describe their own accounts of harassment (or worse). The Department of Transportation joined with the administration to investigate and enforce a zero-tolerance policy.

The Admiral closed with this sobering comment:  “Eighty percent of our young people are not fit to serve their country.”

A brief Q and A session followed, touching on issues such as security at sea and the approaches of other countries to the education and training of mariners. The Admiral’s presentation was thorough and vigorous. Her leadership qualities were on full display.

The talk can be viewed by going to the RMA website at https://greenwichrma.org, and clicking on “Speakers.”

The RMA’s upcoming presentation, “Update on the Amazing Last 18 Months of Greenwich Real Estate,” by David Michonski, is scheduled for 11 AM on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

With real estate transactions affecting 21% to 25% of the U.S. economy, what happens in the real estate market directly affects all other markets. Over the last 18 months anyone owning a home in Greenwich has experienced enormous price gains. David will provide us a fascinating insight into the price and other trends within the Greenwich market over that period. He will put what is happening here in Greenwich into a national perspective to give it context and see how we compare to national trends. He will also offer some brief insights into the state of commercial real estate and some dangers on the horizon for commercial mortgages.

David Michonski has been responsible for some of the largest and most celebrated real estate sales in America for some of America’s most notable families. Over the past 30 years he has lectured, marketed, taught and consulted on real estate sales and marketing around the world. He has served as chairman of international operations for the National Association of Realtors, on the Board of Directors of FIABCI, the international real estate federation, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the IHC Global, the successor organization to the International Real Property Foundation which he helped found in 1991. He has been a real estate consultant for the US Department of State. He has also managed the Greenwich office of Coldwell Banker.

Michonski is the founder, chairman and CEO of Quigler, Inc., which offers a free real estate app for consumers. He is the author of three award-winning real estate books, including Get Your Highest Price, a guide for consumers about what they should expect from their agent to get the highest price for their home, which book served as the inspiration for Quigler.

David graduated from Colgate University, and studied at Harvard, Boston College and the Wharton School.

To stream the presentation by David Michonski at 11 AM on Wednesday, February 14, click on https://bit.ly/30IBj21. This presentation will also be available on local public access TV channels, Verizon FIOS channel 24 and Optimum (Cablevision) channel 79.

Note: The views expressed in these presentations are those of the speakers. They are not intended to represent the views of the RMA or its members.

RMA speaker presentations are presented as a community service at no cost to in-person or Zoom attendees, regardless of gender. Any member of the public who would like to receive a weekly email announcement of future speakers should send a request to members@greenwichrma.org. The RMA urges all eligible individuals to consider becoming a member of our great organization, and thereby enjoy all the available fellowship, volunteer, and community service opportunities which the RMA offers to its members. For further information, go to https://greenwichrma.org/, or contact members@greenwichrma.org.

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