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Two High School Students Will Ride Coast Guard Tall Ship EAGLE during OpSail / Fleet Week New York Parade of Sail on May 23

NEW YORK (May 14, 2012) -- Two talented high school students from the New York area selected as winners of the Operation Sail essay and art contests will ride America’s tall ship, the U.S. Coast Guard barque EAGLE, during the Parade of Sail at the start of OpSail / Fleet Week New York on May 23.

Forrest Simpson of Larchmont NY, and Matthew Singleton of Islip NY, respectively, were chosen by OpSail judges for their art and essay entries.  By coincidence, each happens to be a leader in his community’s U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps program.

The contest, announced in February, invites high school students to submit original artwork and essays on themes related to the War of 1812, The Star-Spangled Banner, or the role of the Revenue Cutter Service (forerunner of the Coast Guard) in the War of 1812. One winner in each category wins a parade of sail trip on EAGLE during OpSail 2012, accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Forrest Simpson, 14, of Larchmont, N.Y. in Westchester County, is a 9th grade student at the Riverdale Country School in New York City. 

His winning artwork depicts a "Revenue Cutter in Action." The painting portrays an important engagement and subsequent American victory between the U.S. Revenue Cutter VIGILANT and the British Privateer DART, a battle fought on October 4, 1813, off the coast of Block Island. 

The 70-ton British sloop had departed Newport R.I. for Block Island, leaving behind two captured prizes and looking for more on Long Island Sound, when the Revenue Cutter VIGILANT pursued her with a contingent of naval personnel aboard. VIGILANT overtook DART, unloaded a broadside, and then launched a successful boarding. During hand-to-hand combat, DART’s First Lieutenant was killed as were two VIGILANT crew members.

“This engagement is seen as one of the most impressive examples of how Revenue Cutters defended America's ports and maritime commerce during the War of 1812,” Forrest says.

Forrest sails competitively, runs varsity track and cross country, and swims in addition to several other athletic hobbies. He is a former print and online reporter with TIME For Kids.

He is involved with his Mock Trial and Model United Nations teams at school, being named the top lawyer for a citywide mock trial competition and receiving an honorable mention for his work at an international Model UN conference. His community service work includes supporting several local care package drives for deployed soldiers as well as volunteering at numerous organizations such as Special Olympics.

For the past three years he has been selected for and attended a school community service trip to New Orleans, rebuilding homes and working with educators and charter schools.

Forrest is a Petty Officer First Class in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. He is the Leading petty Officer of his unit and has received 18 ribbon awards. He has completed many weeks of training with the Navy and Coast Guard, flying and working on aircraft and even getting underway on an aircraft carrier and qualifying as a US Navy F/A-18 plane captain. Forrest plans on attending Navy Officer Candidate School after college and hopes to become a fixed-wing naval aviator. He says he has wanted to have a career in aviation with either the Coast Guard or Navy since he was eight years old.

Forrest has invited his father, James E Simpson, to accompany him on EAGLE.

Matthew J. Singleton, 16, a junior at Islip High School in Islip, N.Y., wrote his winning essay, entitled “Pride of a Young Nation” about the role of the frigate known as “Old Ironsides,” USS CONSTITITION.

Matthew is a Petty Officer Second Class in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and hopes to attend to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point where he plans to study logistics and inter-modal transportation.  He has his eyes on a future in the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Matthew says his father, CDR Jim Singleton, USN (RC), a 1988 Kings Point graduate and Iraq War veteran, has been a strong influence on his career goals and aspirations. Another influence was his late grandfather Angelo Scorzelli, a 30 year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard Reserve, and FDNY Marine Division.

“My grandpa always motivated me to maintain good grades in school so that I could one day attend a Federal Service Academy, an opportunity that he never received,” Matthew said.

“I realized my calling is to be a Coast Guardsman after working alongside the men and women of USCG Station Fire Island for about two weeks in August of 2011,” he said, crediting Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tim Woody, as a role model.

“I joined the Sea Cadet Corps in May 2009 as a Seaman Recruit, and reported to boot camp in June of 2010.  Later I joined 12 other cadets from around the country on a 10-day training cruise aboard the Training Vessel MANATRA (YP-671)”.

Last summer he attended Sea Cadet Petty Officer Leadership Academy at Naval Station Great Lakes.  Back at home he has participated in and observed numerous law enforcement and search & rescue missions.  He currently serves as a training petty officer of his Sea Cadet division, organizing classes in Anti-Piracy operations, Casualty Prevention classes and Naval History instruction.

Last December he was awarded the U.S. Navy League's Theodore Roosevelt Youth Medal for "Outstanding Performance of Duty" in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

Matthew invited his father, CDR Jim Singleton, to accompany him on EAGLE.

EAGLE will lead the parade of warships coming in to New York Harbor for a combined OpSail / Fleet Week on May 23, and will berth at Pier 90 in New York (West 46th St. at 12th Ave.) at 2:00 p.m.

The national essay contest and art contest are sponsored by Operation Sail in association with the USS Constitution Museum, the National Maritime Historical Society, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.

NOTE TO EDITORS: the winning artwork and essay are available upon request.


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Media contact: William G. Armstrong Jr., Director of Communications, Operation Sail, Inc. / 203-904-8115 /

About Operation Sail, Inc.
Operation Sail, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in 1961 with the endorsement of President John F. Kennedy. Backed by a Joint Congressional Resolution, its mission is to advance sail training and promote goodwill among nations. OpSail has produced five international sailing events in 1964, 1976, 1986, 1992, and 2000, each tied to a patriotic or historical event. OpSail 2012 is producing events in New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Boston and New London.  For more information, visit