MIDDLETOWN, RI—Students of the Naval War College’s group of senior international students fastened their bibs and filled their butter tubs at the annual Kempenaar Clam Bake August 19 in Middletown. The 50 officers from 48 countries, including the U.S., were in company of distinguished guests from the area, including guest of honor, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, Mrs. Carcieri, state Attorney General Patrick Lynch and a number of state legislators and local municipal officials and almost 600 invited friends.
In honor of the 55th class of the Naval Command College (NCC) this signature event was hosted by the Kempenaar family for the 55th consecutive year at the Kempenaar Clam Bake Club in Middletown. The purpose of the clam bake, as conceived by Esau Kempenaar in 1956, is to allow NCC officers and their spouses to meet local Aquidneck Island citizens and to get better acquainted with each other as the War College strives to build friendships among future leaders of the world’s naval forces.
The Naval Command College officers mingled most of the night and went through stacks of napkins as they enjoyed the New England tradition of eating steamed clams and lobster, many of them for the first time.
Commander Milan Blazevic, an NCC student from Croatia, said he appreciated the company of his classmates and the local Newport community.
“All of them are very, very friendly and they enjoyed this occasion,” he said.
Though missing his family, he said the community within NCC is friendly and a good atmosphere in which to participate in classes.
“With my friends here, with my classmates, I can survive, I can cope with that,” he said. “And I hope the rest of the year will be like the beginning.”
Governor Carcieri, who has greeted every NCC class during his tenure at the Rhode Island state house, presented the NCC class with honorary state citizenship certificates, and jokingly declared the 50 students tax-exempt. His symbolic gesture was received with cheers by the students.
In remarks to the guests, the Governor said NCC has been an important program for American national security.
“The bonds that you will forge, the contacts that you will make are so, so important because the challenges we have on a global basis are not getting simpler,” Governor Carcieri said. “If people just sat down on the basis of the relationships that we’re developing, things would be a lot better off and I know you’re doing that, Admiral [Phil Wisecup, President of NWC] with this program.”
The Kempenaar family has hosted the NCC clam bake since 1956, and served more than a thousand eight hundred international officers, their families and countless Rhode Islanders who are friends of the Kempenaars and of the Naval Command College. Like Governor Carcieri, the host praised the diplomatic achievements the clam bake offers the NCC officers to take back with them around the world.
“There are incidents already when problems were stopped in other countries because of this night,” said the host, Rocky Kempenaar. “It’s just nice to get everyone together from every other country and we all get along.”
The Naval Command College was established in 1956 to foster friendship, trust and cooperation among international naval officers and prepare them for higher command responsibilities. NCC has graduated 1855 officers to date, and approximately half of them have become flag-level officers, and over 10 percent of the graduates have become chiefs of their respective country’s navy.
By Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs