RADM James A. Helis, USMS

Superintendent, United States Merchant Marine Academy

Photograph: Rear Admiral James A. Helis
Rear Admiral James A. Helis

Rear Admiral James A. Helis, USMS, assumed the duties of the twelfth Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy on July 23, 2012.  Helis retired at the rank of Colonel, following a distinguished 30-year Army career which began when he was commissioned in the Infantry after graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1979.

His key assignments included: 82nd Airborne Division, Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras, Alaska, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. He served as commanding officer of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 23d Infantry Regiment; the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment; and the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, Columbia, South Carolina.

Rear Admiral Helis is an Army Ranger and a master parachutist and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, where he served as Chief of Plans for the NATO International Security Assistance Force. His professional foreign travel includes Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Haiti, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden.

Rear Admiral Helis served as Chairman, Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from 2004 to 2008, when he was deployed to Afghanistan. He was re-appointed to the position in 2009 after his retirement from the Army.
Helis earned a Bachelor of Science from West Point, a Master of Arts in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Military Art and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, and a Doctor of Philosophy in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was a Visiting Defence Fellow at the Queen's University Centre for International Relations in Kingston, Ontario.

Rear Admiral Helis and his wife Jan have two sons, Corbin, 22, a 2011 West Point graduate, and Ian, 18, who joined the Kings Point Class of 2016 this summer.