American Merchant Marine Veterans

Author William Geroux slated to speak at AMMV 34th Convention

Author William Geroux

William Geroux, author of The Ghost Ships of Archangel: The Arctic Voyage that Defied the Nazis, is scheduled to appear at AMMV’s 34th National Convention at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum Heights, MD on Friday, March 27th, 2020.

The Ghost Ships of Archangel is Geroux’s second book about the WWII Merchant Marine, and focuses on the “Murmansk Run” and the story of the fatal PQ-17 Convoy. Geroux previously appeared at the 2017 AMMV National Convention in Reno to support his first book, The Mathews Men.

William Geroux’s first book, The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats, is the largely forgotten story of the U.S. Merchant Marine’s heroics and sacrifices in World War II, told through the adventures of Merchant Mariners from Mathews County, Virginia. Mathews, a rural outpost on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, has been a cradle of merchant sea captains and mariners since before the American Revolution. When America entered World War II in December 1941, Mathews mariners were scattered on freighters and tankers throughout the war zones, hauling vital war cargo. They and their ships became prime targets for German U-boats trying to choke off the Allied supply line. The U.S. Navy initially lacked the forces and inclination to protect the unarmed merchant ships, even in U.S. waters within sight of America’s coast, and the U-boats exacted a terrible toll. The mariners faced torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, frigid water, shark attacks, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys—only to ship out again as soon as they’d returned to safety. The civilian U.S. Merchant Marine ended up suffering a higher casualty rate than any branch of America’s armed forces. Nearly every family in tiny Mathews (whose population during the war was roughly 7,500) had a personal stake in the fight, and none had a greater stake than the family of Capt. Jesse and Henrietta Hodges and their seven sons, who would experience the U-boat war to its fullest.

Biography:

William Geroux spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter, much of it covering Hampton Roads for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, writing about everything from the military to politics to business to hurricanes to crime and punishment. He won numerous awards for breaking news coverage, feature writing and investigative journalism. After leaving journalism, he worked as a writer for Maersk Line Limited, a Norfolk-based subsidiary of one of the world’s largest commercial shipping lines. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA.

For more info: www.williamgeroux.com

Register for AMMV’s 2020 National Convention

The 34th National Convention of the American Merchant Marine Veterans organization will be held at the Maritime Conference Center (MCC) in Linthicum Heights, MD. MCC is affiliated with the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), and the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots (MMP). The primary dates of the convention will be Thursday, March 26th through Saturday, March 28th.

Registration is a two-step process. If attendees/guests wish to stay onsite at the MMC, they must make reservations directly with the facility. The rates are $157 for single room occupancy or $215 for double room occupancy, plus 13% taxes. These rates include three buffet meals per day.

For information on registering with the MCC for lodging & meals, click HERE.

Deck Club/Bar at MCC

The second step is to register as an attendee with AMMV. The registration fee has been lowered this year to $50 plus an additional $25 per person in your party. The Registration Fee covers access to business meetings, speakers/presenters, our generous Hospitality Room, and any onsite entertainment. We have one special formal banquet, which will be themed the “Congressional Gold Medal Dinner”.

To register yourself and any guest(s) as convention attendees, click HERE.

Information on speakers, entertainment, and offsite tours will be made available as details are solidified.

To help support the AMMV National Convention, we produce a Commemorative Magazine. To buy a page or advertise in this magazine, click HERE.

AMMV has held National Conventions at this facility three times in the past, specifically 2015, 2012, and 2007. It is also imperative to note that MITAGS and MMP have sponsored AMMV’s “Storm the Hill” group with lodging, meals, and local transportation for four out of the past five years. (Thank you, MITAGS and MMP!)

Advertise in our 2020 Convention Magazine

AMMV is now accepting advertising business for our 2020 (34th) National Convention Commemorative Magazine. Advertising opportunities are open to any individuals or organizations with a desire to help support the convention (need not be a member). Much of our business is in the form of “tribute” pages, in which a favorite WWII Merchant Mariner is honored or remembered; please consider such a page!

All convention attendees and guests, as well as all paid advertisers, will receive a hard copy of the book. In addition, the final pdf of the magazine will be posted to the AMMV website. CLICK HERE to view the 2019 Commemorative Magazine.

The AMMV National Convention will be held at the Maritime Conference Center located in Linthicum Heights, MD, between March 26th – 29th, 2020.

CLICK HERE for a pdf-fillable advertising rate sheet. All specifications and details can be found on the form. The deadline is February 20th, 2020. Please contact Capt. Chris Edyvean at cjedyvean@hotmail.com for more details.

H.R. 550 passes House; urgent support needed for S. 133

H.R. 550: The WWII Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. AMMV would like to wholeheartedly thank sponsor Rep. John Garamendi (CA) and his staff for their outstanding work in the passage of this legislation. Also to be thanked are the many individual volunteers who voiced their opinions to Congress in the form of emails, letters, phone calls, and social media posts. Finally, AMMV thanks all of the U.S. maritime unions and groups for their various levels of support of our organization and in promoting the Congressional Gold Medal legislation.

The next step is to see the companion Senate bill (S. 133) passed. The bill sits with 31 cosponsors as of 9/18/19; 67 are needed to send it to the Senate Floor. Once passed, the bill will then be signed into law by the President of the United States. S. 133 is currently under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. All supporters of this legislation are encouraged to contact their Senators as well as the committee holding the bill.

Links:

Click HERE for Congressman Garamendi’s press release on the passage of H.R. 550

Click HERE for information on Senate bill S. 133

Click HERE to download a form letter to mail in support of S. 133

Click HERE to complete a quick e-form which automatically sends an email to your Senators

Click HERE to download or view a copy of the Maritime Industry’s support letter for S. 133

AMMV represented at the American Legion’s 101st Convention

The American Legion held its 101st National Convention from August 23rd thru 29th in Indianapolis, IN. AMMV Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Lewis of MA is a long-time member of the American Legion and personally rented a booth for the American Merchant Marine Veterans organization. Robert unfortunately was unable to attend; however, AMMV Executive Vice President Captain Anthony “Dru” DiMattia made last minute arrangements to fill-in. Other AMMV members in attendence were WWII Merchant Marine Veteran & AMMV Government Affairs Co-Chair Charles A. Mills; his daughter, Yvette Miles; and AMMV Special Projects & Veterans Outreach specialist Sheila M. Sova. Assisting behind the scenes with the overall planning was AMMV National Office Administrator Lynn Kelly.

From left to right: Charles A. Mills, Yvette Miles, Capt. Dru DiMattia, & Sheila Sova. Photo credit: American Legion

Upon entering the Indianapolis Convention Center, the group spotted the U.S. Merchant Marine flag hanging alongside the other Armed Forces flags, setting a great tone for the weekend to come. The American Legion does recognize U.S. Merchant Mariner service for membership criteria, if granted Veteran status by meeting eligibility requirements (serving in the WWII period between December 7th, 1941 to December 31st, 1946).

AMMV’s booth was located front and center from one of the main entrances of the facility. Featured were many promotional items such as AMMV News magazines, coasters, hand held fans, and koozie cups. Copies of the flyer from usmm.org called “World War II U.S. Merchant Marine Made Victory Possible” were available, as was legislative information regarding the Congressional Gold Medal for the WWII U.S. Merchant Marine (S. 133). Visitors who had relatives in the Merchant Marine knew nothing about current Congressional Gold Medal legislation efforts.

Many proud sons and daughters teared up when stopping by the AMMV booth, some in surprise to see the U.S. Merchant Marine represented at their convention. Younger veterans were able to learn of the vital service of our Merchant Marine by aid of our educational materials and by hearing the first-hand testimony of Charles Mills.

Charles had always wanted to join the American Legion, recalling about twenty years earlier being turned down for membership. When asked if he still wanted to join, Charles found himself being sworn in within minutes of the conversation. Photographers from the American Legion flocked over to capture the moment.

Charles Mills being inducted to the American Legion by the Past National Commander Jake Comer and MA State Commander Fred White

Besides Charles, the only other WWII Veteran that we met at the convention was Gerald Messier of MA. Gerald, having served in the Army, certainly knew what the Merchant Marine did in WWII. Quite a character himself, Gerald began dancing in front of the booth which soon drew attention, and a photographer from the American Legion came down to photograph Charles and Gerald. A short video was tweeted from the AMMV Twitter page @AMMWWII, of which the official American Legion platform (180,000 followers) retweeted. This led to a whole new set of followers of AMMV on Twitter.

Charles Mills posing with fellow WWII Vet Gerald Messier

Extensive coverage of the American Legion Convention was posted across social media platforms

Many American Legion members conveyed that their local Post includes WWII Merchant Mariners. Some asked for magazines and other materials to take home to help increase the general knowledge of the role of the WWII U.S. Merchant Marine. A few new members joined AMMV. Overall, AMMV’s appearance at the American Legion National Convention can be labeled as a successful endeavor, and it was no surprise that Charles was the star of the show!

Texas Legion member thanking Charles for his service

 

Remembering Morris Harvey

Submitted by Capt. Christopher J. Edyvean
Past AMMV National President

The AMMV organization felt a great loss with the passing of President Emeritus Morris Harvey, who crossed the final bar shortly after his 92nd birthday in June. I would like to share a few words about this man and recap what he has done in the past for AMMV.

WWII Merchant Mariner Morris Harvey, circa 1945

During and after WWII, Morris sailed primarily as a Deck Department member on the following vessels: William Paca, Warren P. Marks, Nicholas D. Labadie, William W. Seaton, Alcoa Ranger, Alcoa Partner, and Alcoa Pennant.

Morris worked promptly through the ranks of AMMV, first serving as President of the Ocala, FL Chapter, later moving up to a Regional Vice President position, and finally having been elected National President following the completion of A.J. Wichita’s two terms of office; Morris would also serve two terms. If all that wasn’t enough, he served a term as National Vice President to provide guidance to the (then) incoming administration.

Morris single handedly managed several National Conventions and Regional Conferences. Anyone who has participated in the planning and execution of major events like these can surly testify as to the hard work and sacrifice that goes with it. In addition, he is to be credited for launching the ammv.us website and setting up the on-line joining feature.

Finally, although it may not have been his idea originally, Morris put the plan in motion for what AMMV would come to know as “Storm the Hill”. The first of such events, in which members would spend a week meeting with members of Congress, was conducted in 2015. Morris again led the STH team in 2017. (In 2018 & 2019, his health would no longer allow participation.)

Morris Harvey as AMMV National President, 2011-2015

Morris performed his AMMV duties while having heaps on his plate in his personal life. He cared for his wife Irene and managed both of their medical appointments and treatments. Morris and Irene lost a son to a motorcycle accident during his presidency. The couple had been in the process of remodeling their home.

I first spoke with Morris in 2014, when he was “grooming” me for a Regional Vice President position. However, what actually unfolded was Morris encouraging me run for AMMV President after his terms were finished. Morris quickly became a mentor to me, and more importantly, a true friend. I was able to visit him and Irene at their Florida home, and I work closely with Morris in co-chairing the 2016 (New Orleans) National Convention.

By the time the 2017 National Convention rolled around, Morris had lost his wife, but he still made the trip to Reno. He was unable to attend the St. Louis convention, although he certainly tried. He made it to the airport before realizing he was physically unable to endure the trip. In a miraculous “comeback”, Morris left hospice earlier this year to join us at the Tampa convention. The AMMV Executive Board had unanimously approved my motion to recognize Morris with the title of President Emeritus, and it was with great pleasure that I was able to present him with a commemoration certificate of such. Morris was also able to attend our special breakfast with Rita Cosby. This was the last time our AMMV family would see this fine man who has given so much to the organization.

Thank you, Morris. Godspeed.

Entertainer Sally Langwah with Morris