By MarEx 2015-05-26 11:14:45
Two U.S. representatives, Janice Hahn (D- Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), emphasized the importance of a House bill to recognize U.S. Merchant Mariners over 70 years after their service in World War II during National Maritime Day Speeches on the East and West Coast.
The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by Hahn and Hunter and seeks to award a $25,000 one-time payment to merchant mariners of World War II. Currently, only about five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in the war are still alive.
Duncan Hunter, speaking at a Maritime Day event in Washington DC stated that, “the legislation would provide “well-deserved recognition for these heroic mariners who fought so valiantly for our country.”
Similarly, Hahn speaking to an audience at the San Pedro Merchant Mariners Veterans Memorial said “The first Maritime Day honoring our merchant mariners was held in 1970. Before that, despite their courage and service, and despite suffering higher casualty rates during World War II than other branches of our military, merchant mariners were excluded from celebrations of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”
During World War II over 200,000 Americans served in the Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine also had higher casualty rates than any branch of the armed service with the exception of the Marines. However, merchant mariners were denied any veteran benefits or status until 1988 when a federal court mandated recognition for the U.S. seamen.
Hahn has introduced HR 563, “Honoring Our World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” to provide the payment to surviving World War II merchant mariners. More than 6,000 merchant mariners died in service during World War II and time is running out to commemorate the accomplishments of the remaining Merchant Marine veterans.