Ever since she was eight and saw her older brother carve out a path in the U.S. military, Dominique Basso pledged that she would follow in his footsteps. Now 18, the East Meadow resident is in her first semester at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point in New York.
Basso graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School this past spring, where she was a Varsity cheerleader and member of the National Honor Society. Another one of her distinguished honors in high school was having the opportunity to be a pilgrim for World Youth Day in January, through which she and other selected students took a trip to Panama last January to meet Pope Francis.
In order to be admitted into the Merchant Marine Academy, students must be nominated by their U.S. Congress representative and Basso received the bid from Fourth District Congresswoman Kathleen Rice.
Basso began classes in July after a three-week indoctrination and will graduate in 2023 with a plan to join the Marine Corps. or Navy as a pilot. “She set the goal of following in her brother footsteps and she did it,” said her mother Antoinette.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy educates “leaders of exemplary character” who graduate from the academy as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.
Students are expected to follow the motto “acta non verba,” or “deeds not words,” and serve their country’s national security, marine transportation, and economic needs.
The service academy is known for its rigorous program that mandates students take more credit hours than any other federal service academy. Coursework is supplemented by the academy’s sea-year, through which students spend a year working on commercisal vessels and sailing to ports across the globe.
All graduates earn a Bachelor of Science degree, U.S. Coast Guard license and officer’s commission in the Armed Forces.
Graduates can choose to work five years in the United States maritime industry with eight years of service as an officer in any reserve unit of the armed forces.
Or five years active duty in any of the nation’s armed forces.
Basso’s brother Vito, 28, graduated from East Meadow High School in 2009, where he was a Varsity football and lacrosse player and wrestler. He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 2013 and went on to become an officer in Marine Corps. before “getting his wings” four years ago as an MV-22 Osprey pilot.
The aircraft is designed to combine the functionality of a helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop. In addition, the aircraft is up to 21 times less vulnerable to small arms fire and 75 percent quieter than helicopters. The Osprey is the only U.S. tactical transport aircraft designed with radiological, biological, and chemical warfare protection.
Vito began his traning in Pensacola in Florida before moving to North Padre Island in Texas and New River, North Carolina, where he is currently stationed. Last year, Vito was deployed to Puerto Rico, where he took part in providing assistance after Hurricane Maria. Now, Vito has a goal to fly his Osprey over his hometown in Eisenhower Park’s next Memorial Day aviation demonstration.