KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- United States Merchant Marine Academy Midshipman Cody Kessler (Delmar, N.Y.) was recognized as the Safety Award recipient for the month of March by the crew of the M/V Alliance Norfolk.
Kessler, a junior forward on the Kings Point Soccer team worked tirelessly for 26 hours straight in an effort to control a fire and re-flash fire which broke out on the No. 5 Cargo Deck of the ship. Chief Engineer Thomas McKenzie praised Kessler's efforts, "He was instrumental in his continued assistance to the vessel's engine and deck department throughout the stressful and arduous firefighting and damage control operations. Mr. Kessler is an extremely valuable ship asset and we are proud of the standard that he has set for himself and others."
Kessler, a Marine Engineering major, has a proven track record for handling pressure situations not only at sea, but also on the playing field. In 2011 he scored the lone goal in the USMMA's 1-0 victory over Catholic University of America to win the Landmark Conference Championship. The win clinched the third consecutive NCAA Division-III tournament bid for Kings Point. In 2010, he scored the game winning goal in the opening round of the NCAA tournament against Kean, a year in which Kings Point would make it all the way to the "Elite 8" before falling to the eventual champions.
"As much as I've been pleased with a number of big performances Cody has put forth in his three seasons as a Kings Point soccer player, I was even more proud to hear of the effort Cody put in while dealing with a potentially dangerous situation during his time out at sea," said Michael Smolens, Head Coach of the USMMA soccer team. "On the field, Cody has scored some of the biggest goals and played a major role in some of the most important wins in USMMA history. More importantly, he's shown that he's learned a great deal during his tenure at the Academy and will be prepared to meet the numerous challenges which face our graduates."
Kessler's duties during the crisis included assisting the ship's electrician in manually isolating leaking drainage piping, rigging and operating damage control pumping equipment, and delivering drinking water to firefighters and crew members. McKenzie applauded Kessler's positive attitude adding that, "Mr. Kessler did all of this without any complaint or question throughout his 26 hour ordeal."
Merchant Marine is one of five federal service academies in the United States. All midshipmen at Kings Point partake in a unique learning experience in which they spend part of their sophomore and junior years at sea enhancing their education with hands-on experience. Dating back to 1942, the "Sea-Year" affords the opportunity for students to engage in peacetime commerce. In the past, assignments have included transporting military supplies to the Persian Gulf and Kosovo as well as humanitarian missions to Haiti and Somalia.
"During my 22 years here I've been proud of the numerous accomplishments our soccer players and other midshipmen have achieved while at the Academy or following graduation," added Coach Smolens. "Cody provides another example that the Academy continues to prepare our young people for success both on land or at sea."