The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

April 3, 2014

Treon follows brother’s footsteps to prestigious Merchant Marine Academy

DANVILLE — A senior at Danville High School has secured a place in what some call the best kept secret in military academies.

Nick Treon will spend the next four years at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located on Long Island, New York.

The application process for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy tends to be tougher than at other U.S. military academies, explained Nick’s father, Ken Treon, himself a Navy veteran. The school’s reputation as a “best kept secret” comes from the fact that enrollment tends to be tougher as the academy realizes it’s not as well known as West Point.

“They want to make sure they’re producing quality people,” Ken Treon said. The academy has a one-third attrition rate, with graduating classes usually being about 200 students, Nick said. This means that about 300 students usually start the year at the academy, only to have 100 leave before their training is complete, he said.

Nick, a lacrosse player for Danville, will also play the sport for the Merchant Marine Academy.

His desire to enroll came from his older brother, Jake, a 2009 Danville grad, who recently graduated from the academy.

“My brother graduated from there this past June. I was up there a lot and got to be around the campus” which gave him a good idea of what to expect, Nick said.

Jake now serves in the naval reserve and is currently working under contract on the ship Maersk Alabama, the same ship whose hijacking was depicted in the movie “Captain Phillips.”

“I’m a math and science-oriented person,” Nick said, which is why he is enrolled in the academy’s maritime engineering program. He’s specifically looking forward to doing maintenance work while out on boats traveling around the world.

The coursework will be a bit accelerated compared to other educational institutes due to extra time being spent on ships. “You take four years of schooling, put it into three years and put that last year on a boat,” Nick said.

The academy’s training period, called indoctrination, is also intense, as Nick knows from his brother went through it. It includes physical training as well as military knowledge and the rules of the military uniform.

“He’ll go July 7 and we won’t have any contact with him for about 6 weeks,” said Ken.

Once merchant mariners have completed their training at the academy, they can apply for private contract jobs at different shipping companies.

Following his graduation, Nick will also be able to enlist as a commissioned officer in the Navy or other armed service branches. Right now, he plans to eventually find an engineering job on land after working on ships.

Despite the expected difficulties, Nick is eager to start training.

“It’s a really tough path to follow, but it has a lot of upsides and I’m really looking forward to going,” he said.

“I’m impressed they would take on that type of challenge,” Ken said of his two sons. “I remember when I was at that age I was just thinking about when my next vacation was. These guys, they’re taking on a tough road. They’re both equipped to handle it, that’s obvious. I’m very proud of both of them.”

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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