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United States Merchant Marine

Something for the weekend.  Labor Day weekend seems a fitting time to recall again the United States Merchant Marine.  The civilian fleet that carries imports and exports to and from the US, during war time it becomes an auxiliary of the Navy to ship troops and war supplies.  Officers of the Merchant Marine are trained at the Merchant Marine Academy, founded in 1943, at King’s Point, New York.

Technically civilians, one out of 26 merchant mariners died in action during World War II, giving them a higher fatality rate than any of the armed services.   Members of the Merchant Marine were often jeered  as slackers and draft dodgers by civilians when they were back on shore who had no comprehension of the vital role they played, or how hazardous their jobs were.  Incredibly, these gallant men were denied veteran status and any veteran benefits because they were civilians.  This injustice was not corrected until 1988 when President Reagan signed the Merchant Marine Fairness Act.  Some 9,521 United States Merchant Mariners were killed during World War II, performing their duty of keeping the sea lanes functioning in war, as in peace.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

2 Comments

  1. THanks, Don for this. My stepfather was a Merchant Marine who spent over half the war at sea. He was on the Murmansk run, Anzio, New Guinea and other campaigns. He finally got his due in 1988 and I was sent his decorations. Shame on the VFW who spread the slander about them and held up thier recognition until many survivors had died.
    Glad to be re-connected.

  2. The unfair way in which the Merchant Mariners were treated after World War II has always riled me Pete. Valor is a precious and necessary thing in this Vale of Tears and should always be honored.

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