American Spirit Inspirational Pages

Let Us Remember the U.S. Merchant Marine
Veterans of WWII

Our Merchant Marine of World War II suffered a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all U.S. Armed Forces combined. Most donít know we were the only all-volunteer service. We were what the battle of the Atlantic was all about.

Franklin D. Roosevelt ē One of his many statements about the U.S. Merchant Marine: They have written one of its most brilliant chapters. They have delivered the goods when and where needed in every theater of operations and across every ocean in the biggest, the most difficult and dangerous job ever undertaken. As time goes on, there will be greater public understanding of our merchantís fleet record during this war.President Roosevelt, as he signed the GI Bill in 1944: I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the Merchant Marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country.

Forty-three years after WWII (1988) the Merchant Marine were finally given their veterans rights. However, not completely or in accordance with the other services. We were cut off as of Aug. 15, 1945. The other services received WWII veterans rights to Dec. 31, 1946 or 14 more months than we did. For 10 years, our American Merchant Marine organizations had to struggle to make us equal with the other services. That finally happened on Nov. 11, 1998. After 53 years, we are now equal with the five armed forces.

We now, old men of the sea, continue our fight for recognition. For example, a several million dollar veterans monument now stands in Columbus, Ohio. There was not a mention of the Merchant Marine. After three years and a lot of politics, we now have a very small plaque to remember us.

There were 250,000 mariners during the war. Today, only 75,000 of us are with you. When asked to stand, we will proudly stand tall.

Cory "Corky" Matthews: USMM Radio Officer
World War II Veteran; Payson, Arizona