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NOV. 9, 2018


Thank you Midshipman First Class Hughes.

On behalf of U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and my colleagues at the Maritime Administration, I welcome you all and thank you for being here.

It is wonderful to be with you here this afternoon on this monumental day. A day that is quite historic for our academy, a day that will be logged for future generations as the day before our football team beats the hell out of Coast Guard and wins the Secretaries Cup again!

Today also happens to be an important day for Kings Point for another reason, and that reason is why we are gathered here today: to witness the exchange of authority, responsibility, and accountability for the execution of this command’s mission. 

As part of that process, we will commission a new flag officer – RADM Jack Buono - to serve in command as the 13th superintendent for this Federal service academy – one of only five in our nation.

Before we do that, I’d like to acknowledge and welcome Jack’s family and friends who are joining us here today:

Jack’s son John, daughter Jackie.  And Jack’s fiancée, Ginger Delance. 

So wonderful that you could all be here to witness this big moment in Jack’s life.   Welcome to the Kings Point family.

I’d also like to take a moment to recognize and thank RADM Susan Dunlap for stepping up and serving as Interim Superintendent these past four weeks.  You kept us on course and speed and provided the continuity of command so critical to the efficient operation of any organization. 

I thank you for your leadership, and for the outstanding job you and the staff did in preparing on short notice for this ceremony today, and for the many details associated with hosting the nationally televised secretaries cup game here tomorrow.  My thanks and well done.

I’m also compelled to say a few words about Jack’s predecessor; RADM Jim Helis in his role as the 12th superintendent. 

Jim faced, and addressed, some significant challenges in his time here at Kings Point, and many of his efforts have led to positive changes and improvements -- and put us on solid footing for the future.

This past academic year 2017-18, in fact, will probably go down as one of the more successful years we’ve seen at Kings Point in some time.  So I thank Admiral Helis and Jan for their time and service, and wish them the best on their journey forward.

Now there is someone up here who I imagine is getting a bit impatient. He’s only been preparing for the last 40 plus years for this day.  Back in July 1974, he was sitting in one of those seats wondering: “what the hell have I gotten myself into?”

Forty-four years later, he’s now sitting in an honored seat on this stage again wondering: “what the hell am I getting myself into?

Well, I think he knows exactly what he’s getting into, and God bless him for his willingness to step forward and take on a level of responsibility that quite frankly very few others are equipped to successfully handle.

Seventy-seven other folks made their case to be standing on this stage today, but ladies and gentlemen:  you are looking at the man who rose to the top of every one of the seven different interview panels that were searching for the right person to lead this academy into the future. 
I can tell you that when I briefed Secretary Elaine L. Chao on my recommendation that Jack Buono should be the next superintendent, she immediately agreed that he was ideally suited to lead the academy forward.

Having spent his entire career in maritime leadership roles at-sea and ashore, sailing worldwide and working his way up from third mate to Master Mariner for Exxon shipping company, he knows what it’s like to be at sea on the mid-watch on a stormy night holding a steaming mug of bad coffee.  He can tell you first-hand what that’s all about.

But he can also tell you what it’s like to lead at the highest levels as President and CEO of a major shipping company…and everything in between.

Jack Buono has in his sea bag what it takes to lead our academy into the future. He knows us and fully understands our mission to provide mariners with the highest caliber of training and education possible.

And he is committed to giving our midshipmen everything they need to serve our industry and our nation capably in their own positions of leadership afloat and ashore – wherever and whenever our nation needs them.  Economic security is national security:  we provide both.

What probably impresses me most about Jack is that he has a great vision for the future of this academy.

He accurately views USMMA as a national treasure with a rich history of contribution to our nation that, frankly, not enough people know about. In this our academy’s 75th anniversary year, he’s determined to change that.  

With Master Mariner Jack Buono, class of 1978, at the helm, I have no doubt that kings point will continue its acceleration toward greatness as this nation’s center of maritime excellence.
Congratulations Jack, welcome aboard and best wishes on your critical new mission as our leader here at Kings Point. May success follow your flag, sir! Publish the commissioning order

Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2019