SUBJECT: Serve the Midshipmen for 44 years – lose your Academy housing
Dear Fellow Kings Pointers,
Captain Kenneth Force, USMMA’s legendary, award winning, and internationally acclaimed Midshipmen Regimental Band Director, has been informed by Superintendent James Helis that he has changed the Academy housing policy and Capt. Force will no longer have a place to live on the Academy.
After decades of renting Quarters G, a modest home next to the Academy’s warehouse, Capt Force’s home is no longer his. Instead, Superintendent Helis has decided to offer Quarters G to future, to-be-hired new employees. What has changed at Kings Point such that Captain Force is suddenly being forced off the campus? Seven previous Superintendents clearly saw the value in having Capt. Force aboard the Academy.
For 44 years Capt. Force has enhanced the lives of midshipmen and improved the Academy with his selfless devotion to Kings Point. He has led the Midshipmen Regimental Band, and the Regiment of Midshipmen, in 10 Presidential Inaugural parades – an experience which no Kings Pointer ever forgets. He introduced the now famous midshipmen extravaganza “Beat Retreat” that distinguishes Academy events to this day. The New York Times has covered his numerous accomplishments and Capt. Force himself is honored on the John Phillip Sousa Memorial Statue at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.
The problems here are greater than that of just a simple loss of housing for Capt. Force. As most of you are aware, Capt. Force is handicapped. He has severe mobility problems caused by Guillain-Barré Syndrome. His housing on the grounds of the Academy has enabled him to continue to work and be fully functional as the music director because of his proximity to the midshipmen.
The second, and no less important issue, is that Capt. Force is the Academy’s certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor. He is available 24/7 to midshipmen from Quarters G. Although we would all like to believe that such a position is not necessary, the records speak for themselves and Capt. Force has an incredible 90% success rate in his counseling. Ironically, when Capt. Force wanted to publish his successful AA results, the Academy refused, fearing it would draw attention to our student alcohol usage. Moving off campus would greatly reduce midshipmen access to Capt. Force’s alcohol and substance abuse counseling expertise and make it excessively difficult for the disabled Capt. Force to transport students to off campus AA meetings.
Finally, Regimental Band duties often require Capt. Force’s presence at early morning hours for colors and travel and late hours for practices, some of the very reasons that athletics and other departments are allowed to have on campus housing for faculty and staff. According to Superintendent Instruction 2014-05, Section 5(e)(i), housing can be assigned based on “Employee availability for off hours duties, responsibilities, and emergencies during the past year.” Capt. Force’s duties clearly meet these qualifications.
Injustice triumphs when good men stand silently by and do nothing. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez has demonstrated his interest in the Academy. If you believe that Capt. Force deserves to remain on campus, please forward this email to Mr. Mendez (Victor.Mendez@dot.gov) with a copy to Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen (Paul.Jaenichen@dot.gov) and the Superintendent (HelisJ@usmma.edu) and voice your support for allowing Capt. Force to remain in Quarters G. Please copy the USMMA-AAF as well, at email@example.com.
Acta non Verba, Capt. Force! Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our Academy and our midshipmen!
John Knight ‘87
Former USMMA Regimental Band Member