The Merchant Marine

This is beyond the usual time period of American history down to the end of Reconstruction covered in this blog, but  it seems appropriate on this Labor Day to recall some of the unsung heroes of World War II, the Merchant Marine.  Along with their British colleagues in the Merchant Service, and the merchant fleets of the other allied nations, the Merchant Marine manned the merchant vessels that delivered supplies and troops through the war torn waters of the Atlantic and Pacific.  Technically civilians, one out of 26 merchant mariners died in action during the war, giving them a higher fatality rate than any of the armed services. Members of the Merchant Marine were often jeered at as slackers and draft dodgers by civilians when they were back on shore who had no comprehension of the vital role they played.  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.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. If you’ve ever wondered about those who escorted those merchant convoys come to the Port of Albany (NY) & see the USS Slater the last Destroyer Escort afloat.
    These ships were lighter, more lightly armed and cheaper than a real destroyer. The DEs were originally supposed to go to the UK for the protection of Lend-Lease shipping.

    Check out:
    http://www.ussslater.org/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyer_escort
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Slater_%28DE-766%29

  2. Destroyers were called tin cans TC. Destroyer escorts should have been called cardboard cans. It took a lot of courage to go to war in one of them.


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