Lt. Mitchell A. Kempisty, USN, an 11-year member of American Legion Post 60 in Laurel, Md., won the prestigious “Take a Bow” award for his mid-race recovery after being swept overboard by his boat’s boom during an unexpected turn. See the link to his three-minute narration at the post-event banquet presentation.
Mitch competed as a crew member aboard the sailboat “Glory,” owned/skippered by Ron Oard, a retired naval officer and Naval War College professor, in the 2022 Shields Class Nationals. Mitch was able to crew for Ron this summer on his off time while attending Surface Warfare Department Head School in Newport. Mitch will report to USS Mason (DDG-87) in Mayport, Fla., as operations officer later this year.
Mitch introduced himself to sailing just over two years ago while a student at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif. In his off time there he heard about the NPS Foundation’s Sailing Association, where he found NPS department dean and professor Ron Giachetti, who taught Mitch and a few friends the basics of sailing.
But there was a problem, a big one. A lack of student volunteer staff at the time hindered the association, which had only two functional sailboats. Mitch took the helm of the association as commodore, re-branding it as the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation Yacht Club (NPSFYC). By the time Mitch graduated in December 2021 with a degree in astronautical engineering, he and club board members had grown the organization to five sailboats, adding nearly 200 student, faculty, veteran and family members.
Mitch, as commodore and skipper, with a crew from NPSFYC - Giachetti, Lt. Tony Seda, Lt. Molly Robertson and Capt. Jared Valeske, USMC - competed in the 2021 Shields Class Sailing Nationals, held in Oxford, Md. Many noticed their presence. One of them, Oard, would be competing with his own boat in the nationals the following year in Newport, where both Mitch and Tony would be attending Department Head School. Both were eager recruits and sailed with Ron all summer. “Glory,” crewed by Kempisty, Seda, and local sailors John Erhard and Doug Hancher, finished the six-race nationals 24th of 34.
Mitch was the 2018 Naval Surface Forces Shiphandler of the Year and is the author of “Shiphandling You Will Not Learn from a Book,” U.S. Naval Institute, June 2020. He is a certified Navy Surface Rescue Swimmer.