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Maine Maritime Academy has a strong history of military involvement. The first MMA class reported on October 9, 1941 to World War I naval veteran, Rear Admiral Douglas Dismukes. During World War II, quality U.S. Merchant Marines, deck, and engineering officers were in high demand. MMA gladly accepted and met the challenge by graduating 384 men who served in every theater of operation in the Second Great War.
Although Maine Maritime is not directly affiliated with any branch of the military, and attendance to the school does not require any previous or future military service, the academy is proud of the men and women of the armed forces who have “hung up their boots” as they say and have come to MMA to start or continue their higher education.
“The decision to leave the Army and come to MMA was difficult as I really enjoyed my service and loved my job,” said John Pooler, an eight year Army veteran and a freshman in the Marine Engineering Operations program. “In the end MMA will allow me and my wife, of seven years, Nicole to finally start our family and provide us with the financial and job security we want without having to leave for years at a time.”
“I knew I was going to be leaving the Navy after my first enlistment, and that I wanted to use the G.I. Bill,” said David Chandler, a five-year active duty veteran and New Orleans native. “I eventually decided on going to a maritime academy, but when I started looking more closely at them I decided that I did not want to participate in a regimented lifestyle. MMA's [Vessel Operation and Technology] program is unique, and I thought it best suited me.”
Since 1944 the G.I. Bill has helped service members attend school for little to no money out of their pocket, a great initiative for people to join the military that have the dream of going to college but cannot afford it. However, for many of the veterans here on campus, the military has given them more to use here than just financial aid.
“My military career has taught me a lot about work ethic and time management, which have helped me greatly though my first semester,” said John Spring, a seven-year Marine Corps veteran from Windham.
Of course, not everyone who has served and is attending MMA has left the service. Some, like Maj. Anthony Miller, a native of Orlando, is attending the academy after spending sixteen years on active duty and is now serving in the Army Reserve.
Miller said he came to MMA because it is one of the few maritime academies that offer a graduate program and it has the most picturesque campus.
With the strong military history of the school and the surrounding community, Veteran’s Day is more than just a day off from work and class. For many, it is a time to reflect on departed friends and the memories they made together.
“Veteran's Day represents a day to reflect on my fallen friends, and to help share their stories with those who might not be aware of the sacrifices made,” said Joshua Hale, a five-year Marine Corps veteran from Limington majoring in Marine Transportation Operations.
“[Veteran’s Day] reminds me of all the close friends I made,” said Chandler, a former sonar technician on a submarine. “The extreme close quarters on the sub forces you to make some pretty close bonds. The hardships we endured together and the adventures we had created a sense of camaraderie that cannot be recreated.”
Maine Maritime has grown, changed, and come a long way in its seventy-one year history, but its support for veterans both with enrollment and job opportunities will always be a mark of pride for the academy.
Recently, the school’s athletics department raised money to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project at the last home football game of the season. Maine Maritime has also scheduled a Veteran’s Day ceremony on November 9th on the front lawn of Leavitt Hall at 11:00. Everyone from the community is invited to join the ceremony.