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There are less than 5000 surviving Merchant Marine Veterans left in the US, why not provide them the benefits they so deserve. Those Marines crossed the Atlantic and provided service to the US risking their lives just as the other branches of the military did. Why not provide the support and benefits to honor these Veterans as well. PASS HR 563.
These people deserve the same rights as the rest of our Veterans.
The United States Merchant Marine provided the greatest sealift in history between the production army at home and the fighting forces scattered around the globe in World War II. The prewar total of 55,000 experienced mariners was increased to over 215,000 through U.S. Maritime Service training programs.
Merchant ships faced danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders and destroyers, aircraft, "kamikaze," and the elements. About 8,300 mariners were killed at sea, 12,000 wounded of whom at least 1,100 died from their wounds, and 663 men and women were taken prisoner. (Total killed estimated 9,300.) Some were blown to death, some incinerated, some drowned, some froze, and some starved. 66 died in prison camps or aboard Japanese ships while being transported to other camps. 31 ships vanished without a trace to a watery grave.
[Illustration shows SS Byron D. Benson torpedoed on 4/4/42 off North Carolina: 10 members of the crew of 37 lost their lives.]
1 in 26 mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty, suffering a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. Casualties were kept secret during the War to keep information about their success from the enemy and to attract and keep mariners at sea.
Newspapers carried essentially the same story each week: "Two medium-sized Allied ships sunk in the Atlantic." In reality, the average for 1942 was 33 Allied ships sunk each week. (http://www.usmm.org/ww2.html