President Roosevelt said mariners were “fighting side by side with our Army and Navy.” Mariners were at the front the moment they left port, subject to attack by submarine, surface raider, mines, bombers, kamikaze, and land-based artillery. About 9,300 mariners were killed and 12,000 wounded. Mariners suffered the highest casualty rate of any service during World War II, with 1 in 26 killed. Over 1,500 ships were sunk, with 1 in 8 mariners losing their ship. Many of these facts were not known until we gained access to enemy records after the war.
It took 15 tons of supplies to support one soldier for one year at the front. The War Shipping Administration reported to President Roosevelt that the U.S. Merchant Marine, during the last year of WWII; delivered 6500 tons (13 million Pounds) of materials and cargo to our Military Forces and to our allies during each hour of a 24/7 operation. Mariners remained in war zones long after the fighting troops came home to enjoy the benefits of the GI Bill. Mariners suffered many casualties as 54 ships struck mines after V-E or V-J Day.
Mariners were denied benefits: unemployment, education, home or small business loans, priority for postwar jobs, and medical care for disabilities. Mariners were urged to stay at sea with promises of benefits and “your country needs you,” but only received a “Thank You” letter from President Truman and a lapel pin. They suffered financial repercussions from this lack of benefits and opportunities all their lives.
Struggle for Veteran Status: Congress created an application process for Veteran Status in 1977. Mariners were continually denied, while telephone operators and even Women’s Air Service Pilots who washed out of training were approved. In 1987, three torpedoed mariners successfully sued the government, resulting in veteran status in Jan. 1988, too late for most benefits. Mariners are honored on countless memorials across the country, including the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. Sadly, in some places, they are deemed “civilians” and relegated to the back of the monument or not included at all. Mariners still seek full, official recognition for their heroism and vital role in making World War II victory possible.
Send a message to your local Congressperson.
Choice#2 (Submitted by Leo Selvey of AMMV Southwest Florida Chapter)
AMMV Members at Large – Send a compelling story to your local congressperson
Choice#3 (Excerpted from an article in the American Legion Magazine by Harold Hudson, AMMV Central California Chapter)
General Letter of Support for HR154 (Discusses high losses)
Choice#4 (Submitted by Clinton Quirk, AMMV Member at Large)
General Letter of Support for HR154 (Discusses government waste)