USMMA midshipman honored for saving life of stowaway

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The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA):

(WASHINGTON) — This National Maritime Day, a current U.S. Merchant Marine Academy midshipmen received the Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement after being selected by the federal Maritime Administration (MarAd) for this prestigious award, which, as with military valor medals, is awarded only when merited and rarely, if ever, to a midshipman.

Andrew Bouchot of Castle Pines, Colo., will graduate from the academy on June 15 and was recognized Wednesday for his heroic efforts in saving the life of a stowaway during his academy Sea Year training.

A medal was presented to Bouchot by retired Navy Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, the head of MarAd.

In December 2017, Bouchot was sailing aboard a heavy-lift vessel assigned as an engine cadet when, just after leaving Lagos, Nigeria, three stowaways were discovered. One was dehydrated to the point of death. Bouchot, a New York state certified EMT, immediately responded to the medical needs of each of the distressed men. Throughout the ordeal, Bouchot monitored and treated one of the men, who was near comatose, safely re-hydrating him which enabled him to eventually make a full recovery.

This medal, established in 2002, is “awarded to recognize merchant mariners who have participated in an act or operation of humanitarian nature directly to an individual or groups of individuals. This medal may be awarded to those leaders in the maritime industry who have dedicated years of service or achievement and/or given an extraordinary valuable contribution or work to the maritime industry.”

“I am humbled to be recognized for this achievement,” said Bouchot. “I simply did what any of my fellow classmates would have done in the same situation.”

The ceremony fell on National Maritime Day, a congressionally recognized day to honor those in the maritime industry, from the brave and courageous merchant mariners who have given their lives in defense of our nation to the men and women who continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in serving our nation’s maritime interests in times of war and peace.

“The selfless and courageous actions of Midshipman Bouchot are indicative of the character possessed by the men and women who currently attend the USMMA as well as its over 13,000 living alumni,” said Capt. James Tobin, president of the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation. “We could not be prouder of Midshipman Bouchot.”

The academy trains the future leaders of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt dubbed the “Fourth Arm of Defense,” the U.S. merchant marine. In peacetime, merchant marine vessels carry goods and commodities across the U.S. and the globe; in wartime, the merchant marine takes troops, weaponry and materiel to battle, which is why every USMMA graduate incurs a military service obligation for eight years.

The academy is unique in that a key part of its training, mandated by Congress, takes place aboard vessels for a full 12 months. One hundred forty-two students lost their lives while training at sea during World War II, thus making the USMMA the only federal service academy privileged to carry a battle standard.

By Professional Mariner Staff