About Author Nicholas F. Starace II


Nicholas F. Starace II was born in Brooklyn, NY, and now lives in Short Hills, NJ, with his daughter Dorine and her son Nicholas IV. He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a BS degree, USCG license as Third Assistant Engineer, and commission as ensign in the U.S. Navy. That was just the beginning of a career and lifestyle that would eventually take him to the four corners of the earth, visiting over eighty countries. He received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. In 2005 he earned a USCG 100 ton Captain's License, which is pending upgrade to 200 tons. In 2007 he received an Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

A freelance writer, Starace published articles for Sea History, Model Shipwright, U.K., and the Nautical Research Guild's Nautical Research Journal. He has written numerous articles for ship modeling magazines,and his ship modeling awards and activities have been the subject of several newspaper articles. His paper on the sinking in 1865 of the ill-fated sidewheeler Sultana gained national attention. He has written book reviews for the NRG Journal. He was fortunate enough to be interviewed by National Geographic for an article about the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

As an authority on ship modeling, this “Best-of-Show” craftsman has given talks on a wide variety of maritime and ship modeling subjects. His modeling philosophy has always been to build models that capture a part of America's maritime heritage. He has given ship modeling courses. A frequent speaker at club functions, he was a guest speaker at the 2000 World Marine Millennial Conference in Salem, MA, the 1989 and 1998 Nautical Research Guild Conferences, and at other exhibits and conferences. In 1985 he was interviewed on Singapore TV for an arts and crafts documentary, as founder and Commodore of the Ship Model Society of Singapore.

A turning point in his life occured in 1982 when the first terrorist air-bomb exploded on a flight he and his wife were on from Tokyo to Hawaii. Starace had traveled far and wide and seen the world many times over. From his travels and readings he was well aware of how military conflict has changed since the founding of this country and the role his family played during half its history. But as the plane made its death-like plunge toward the sea, little did he realize that he was staring in the face of a new enemy: terrorism. Later, he would lay witness to IRA terrorist bombings in London and 9/11 in NY.

Readers interested in Asian cultures will be intrigued by his many exotic excursions. Some may find solace reading about family battles with cancer and schizophrenia, won and lost. Others may be inspired by Starace's efforts at acting and screen modeling hobbies, which led to memberships in the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. Some will get a sense of the gratification that comes with doing volunteer work at a VA hospital. Another segment of the book chronicles the gradual failure of a thirty-four-year marriage and ponders how—or if—divorced couples ever find closure. Military enthusiasts will marvel at the emotional drama experienced during visits to Normandy and Iwo Jima commemorating the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries of the battles. That is a mere glimpse of his emotional rollercoaster ride through a life of adventure, heartache, and achievement. There is so much diversity here that it has the kind of appeal that only a modern-day renaissance man like Starace can foster.

Starace received the Badge of Honor from the Minister of Defense, Taiwan, for his U.S. naval service when Communist China bombarded Taiwan's offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu during the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis. That medal complements others he received: National Defense Medal, Naval Reserve Medal, Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, as well as five military service ribbons. Of his military service, Starace relates the lessons learned while serving under Medal-of-Honor winner Captain John D. Bulkeley of World War II PT Boat fame. It was his PT boat squadron that evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from the Philippines.

The Staraces had come to this country after it finally emerged from the shadows of a dreadful civil war, and saw it segue from a strong nation into an international superpower. Meanwhile, they labored in its shipyards, learned in its classrooms, toiled in its shops, prayed in its churches, sailed under its flag, and fought and died in its wars. For that, Nick Starace owes it everything, and White Sails Became Me is both a tribute to their seafaring heritage and a microcosm of the vast evolution that America underwent since they first set foot on its docks.