James Michael Kuzma, born February 8th, 1961 in Steubenville, OH, passed away unexpectedly on Friday February 5th, 2021. He and his wife of 36 years, Karen, have been residents of Cocoa Beach since 2008.
In addition to his wife Karen, he is survived by his four children, James Michael II (Andrea Pinzon-Garcia), William Jordan (Patricia Kuzma), Lauren Rose (Aaron Possinger) and Candace Marie and five grandchildren, Ariana, Lillian, Camilo, Adelaide, and Maverick. He is also survived by his mother, Catherine Kuzma, and mother-in-law, Candace Jordan.
The third child of four, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the US Naval Academy (1983), a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the Catholic University of America, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF).
He served 28 years with the US Navy before retiring in Cocoa Beach in 2011. His first assignment was the USS Jacksonville SSN 699. He went on to Naval Sea Systems Command serving during 1988-90 as a Fleet Liaison and Systems Test Director for various submarine Combat and Weapons System Program Offices. He served as Engineering Officer on the USS Newport News SSN 750 from 1991 to 1994. In 1994, he was assigned to the CINCLANTFLT Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board. He served as the Executive Officer on USS Atlanta SSN 712 from October 1996 to July 1998 before reporting to Submarine Warfare Division of the OPNAV staffer where he served as Submarine Combat Systems Requirements Officer. Following that he assumed command as the Commanding Officer of the USS Boise 764 from March 2001 until October 2003. He went on to serve as Deputy Director for Operations on the staff of the Commander, Naval Submarine Forces from 2003-2005. From October 2005 to August 2007, Captain Kuzma served as Special Activities Division Chief on Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance staff before attending ICAF from August 2007 to June 2008. He rounded off his impressive Naval career as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Ordinance Test Unit in Cape Canaveral (2008-2011). However, he went back to work shortly later at Space Florida as the Senior Vice President and General Manager in 2011 until the day he passed away.
Captain Kuzma’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards). While at the Naval Academy he was a member of the USNA Basketball team from 1979-1983. He was an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and US Naval Academy sports teams. His favorite pastimes were going to the various amusement parks and live concerts, and rejoicing in silly antics like playing pranks and YouTube videos of the Village People, Baby Shark, and Minions during dinner. Most of all, his special joys in life were spending time with his five grandchildren, children and wife.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Captain Kuzma's memory be made to Wreaths Across America. https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/