U.S. Representative Seeks To Honor Merchant Marines

Merchant Marines

Published Jul 24, 2015 3:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. Representative Susan W. Brooks (R- Ind.) wants to grant World War II Merchant Mariners with the highest civilian honor. Brooks has introduced the Merchant Marine of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (HR 2992) to Congress. If passed, the bill would collectively award a Congressional Gold Medal to merchant mariners who served during World War II.

About 215,000 merchant mariners served during the war, entering deadly environments as they delivered supplies to U.S. armed forces in Europe and the Pacific. Merchant Marines suffered higher casualty rates than any other branch of the military, losing between 6,500 to 9,000 seamen.

“The brave actions of the Merchant Marine during World War II proved instrumental in securing victory for the Allied Powers,” Brooks said. “These loyal and courageous men put their lives on the line for the cause of freedom and selflessly answered their nation’s call to duty.”

Brooks is also a co-sponsor of Representative Janice Hahn’s (D- Calif.) “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 (HR 563). The bill would grant a one-time $25,000 benefit to the roughly 5,000 living WWII mariners.

Merchant Mariners have never received full veteran benefits and were excluded from Veterans and Memorial Day celebrations until 1970.