The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY, was particularly close to the shooting this weekend of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, as her husband is U.S. Navy Captain Mark E. Kelly, a NASA Astronaut born in West Orange, NJ, and a 1986 graduate of USMMA with a bachelor of science degrees in marine engineering and marine transportation (with highest honors). Rep. Giffords was shot on Saturday, Jan. 8 at a supermarket in northwest Tucson, Arizona.
According to a report in New York Newsday, it was on the campus in 2006 that Kelly proposed to Giffords. A statement on Rep. Giffords website from Captain Kelly reads:
"On behalf of Gabby and our entire family, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of Arizona and this great nation for their unbelievable outpouring of support. Gabby was doing what she loved most – hearing from her constituents – when this tragedy occurred. Serving Southern Arizonans is her passion, and nothing makes her more proud than representing them in Congress.
"Like all Americans, we mourn the loss of Gabe Zimmerman, a fine man and beloved member of Gabby’s team, Judge John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard. We must never forget them, and our prayers are with their families. Our hearts go out to everyone injured yesterday; we hope and pray for their quick recovery. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to all of the first responders, medical personnel, law enforcement, and Arizona citizens who acted swiftly yesterday and continue to assist our community through this tragedy. Many stories of heroism are emerging, and they are a source of strength for us during this difficult time. We are forever grateful.
“Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson’s Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross.”
Selected by NASA in April 1996, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. A veteran of three space flights, he served as pilot on STS-108 in 2001 and STS-121 in 2006, and was the Discovery’s Commander on STS-124 in 2008, and has logged 38 days in space.