Bari Survivor to attend AMMV Convention

Walter Broll (right) and Dave Yoho at the 2016 AMMV Convention in NOLA

WWII Merchant Marine Veteran Walter Broll will be attending the 33rd AMMV National Convention in Tampa on March 21st thru 23rd, 2019.

Broll is a survivor of the December 2nd, 1943 air raids at Bari, Italy. Over 100 German aircraft attacked Bari Harbor, damaging or sinking a total of about forty Allied vessels of significant tonnage. These numbers include seven American Liberty ships, of which Broll was serving on the SS Grace Abbott, one of the damaged vessels.

This event became unofficially known as the “Second Pearl Harbor” due to the destruction caused by the enemy. The American ship John Harvey was carrying a top-secret cargo of mustard gas and, upon its destruction by the enemy, leaked the toxin in large quantities. Soon, hundreds in the area became ill.

Mr. Broll will be attending his third AMMV National Convention in the past four years. He is one of a handful of WWII Merchant Mariners who has his audio biography available in the U.S. Merchant Marine (Ralph E. Crump) gallery of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Click HERE to read an archived AMMV News article about his experiences at Bari.

Walter Broll tours Anheuser-Busch during 2018 AMMV Convention activities

Surviving Merchant Marine Veteran of the SS William S. Ladd to attend AMMV Convention

The American Merchant Marine Veterans National Convention Committee welcomes WWII Merchant Mariner Oliver Lua to our Tampa event in March; he just recently joined the AMMV.

Oliver was only 15 years old when he boarded his first vessel, Liberty Ship William S. Ladd, in San Francisco Harbor. Several months later, Lau would experience intense action while the Ladd was anchored in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

The only other merchant ship to be sunk in the Leyte operation was William S. Ladd. Before she went down in Leyte Gulf she established the proud record of four planes destroyed. She accounted for one plane on the afternoon of December 5 and knocked down three on December 10. One of these planes crashed into her and set 500 drums of gasoline afire. A number of explosions in No. 4 and No. 5 holds followed at 1830 and the ship began to settle by the stern. At 1750 the after guns had been secured and the men manning them were ordered to abandon ship. At 1840 guns No. 1 to 5 were ordered secured and the Armed Guards were ordered to abandon ship. Not until 1930 did the last Navy personnel and ship’s officers abandon the doomed vessel. Eight Armed Guards were wounded when the plane crashed into Ladd (Naval History and Heritage Command, 2014).

Oliver and his wife Anne will be traveling to Tampa all the way from Washington State to participate in AMMV’s 33rd National Convention. We look forward to hearing his WWII stories, and we thank him for his service to our country!

Naval History and Heritage Command. (2014). Battle of the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/n/naval-armed-guard-service-in-world-war-ii/battle-of-the-philippines.html#gulf

BREAKING NEWS

CONFIRMED for AMMV’s 33rd National Convention in Tampa is 3-Time Emmy Award Winner, Best-Selling author, Famed TV Host, News Reporter, and Veterans advocate RITA COSBY.

During her remarkable career, Rita Cosby has hosted primetime televised programs on FOX and MSNBC. She has interviewed dozens of world leaders and major celebrities.

Rita will be joining us for the Patriotic Dinner on March 22nd at the Westshore Grand.  The next morning, we are honored to have her deliver our Keynote Speech following a breakfast at the Mosaic Center in The Florida Aquarium.

She will be presenting on her best-selling book, Quiet Hero, which begins with the discovery of her own father’s WWII service as an underage Polish résistance fighter, who became a POW, saved by US Troops.  This story is an amazing slice of history and recommended reading for all who admire the Greatest Generation. A book signing will immediately follow her special presentation.

WWII Merchant Marine legislation reintroduced in the 116th Congress

Members of Congress have reintroduced pieces of legislation which would recognize those who served in the WWII Merchant Marine.

Rep. Al Green (TX) reintroduced H.R. 154 (same bill number as in the 115th Congress) which would, if enacted, provide a one-time payment of $25,000 to eligible WWII Merchant Mariners. As with the last several sessions of Congress, this “compensation” bill lacks a Senate sponsor. However, Rep. Green was able to kickstart the legislation by adding a quick 17 co-sponsors.

The WWII Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Act has also been reintroduced by repeat sponsors Rep. John Garamendi (CA) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK). The new bills (H.R. 550 and S. 133 respectively), if enacted, would award a Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the United States Merchant Mariners of World War II in recognition of their dedicated and vital service during World War II.

The final sponsorship tallies in the 115th Congress for the WWII Merchant Mariner Gold Medal legislation were 222 co-sponsors for the House bill (H.R. 5879) and 30 for the Senate bill (2127). Back in the 114th Congress, identical legislation passed the House but failed in the Senate.

The Transportation Institute has created an application which sends a quick pre-written email to one’s representatives based on inputted zip code. CLICK HERE to engage Congress with an email requesting support of the WWII Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Act.

AMMV members support Rep. Garamendi

A handful of western-region AMMV members attended a maritime stakeholders meeting with Rep. John Garamendi, held on September 17th at California State University Maritime Academy. (Rep. Garamendi introduced H.R. 5879: The WWII Merchant Mariner Congressional Gold Medal Act and also met with our ‘Storm the Hill’ gang back in May.) During the morning introductions, Garamendi surprised all attending WWII Merchant Mariners with Congressional Commendation certificates.

Rep. Garamendi surprises WWII Vets with Congressional Commendation certificates

Present were participants from across the U.S. maritime community. Many key topics were touched upon, the most important being the Jones Act. Following the initial meeting was a luncheon sponsored by the Propeller Club of Northern California. Afterwards, Rep. Garamendi received the “Champion of Maritime” award from the American Maritime Partnership.

Staffer Emily Burns has been working tirelessly to promote H.R. 5879

It was critical that AMMV was well represented, both to show our support for current maritime issues and to hopefully keep the WWII MM Gold Medal legislation near the top of the congressman’s agenda. Representing our organization were AMMV News Editor Sindy Raymond, AMMV Region #8 Vice President Larry Starn, Michael Hoge (North Bay Mariners Chapter); AMMV National Vice President Christian Yuhas, Frank Mendez, Robert Ulrich, Bill Fairfield, Harold Wagner (Golden Gate Chapter); and AMMV National Treasurer John Pitts (Member-at-Large).

AMMV members in attendence