Murkowski: Bill honors unsung heroes of WWII
Editor’s note: This press statement was received on May 27, 2016.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced S.2989, the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, in honor and appreciation of the Merchant Mariners who served during World War II. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is a co-sponsor.
“Merchant Mariners were instrumental during World War II, providing valuable support transporting troops and vast quantities of war material needed to fight and win that war,” said Sen. Murkowski. “Their dedication and vital service to our nation cannot be overstated, and recognizing them through this bill is the least we can do to honor the efforts and service of Merchant Mariners.”
The U.S. Merchant Marine is collectively the commercial, non-naval ships that carry cargo or passengers or provide maritime services, and the civilian crewmen and officers who sail those ships. During World War II the Merchant Marine proved instrumental in providing for the efficient and reliable transoceanic transport of military and civilian personnel as well as combat equipment, fuel, food, commodities and raw materials that were pivotal in the Allied victory.
The Merchant Marine bore a higher per-capita casualty rate than any other branch of the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. It is estimated that 8,300 Merchant Mariners died or went missing during WWII—as many as 12,000 were wounded, and more than 600 became prisoners of war. Despite their honorable service in wartime, the men of the Merchant Marine were not accorded veteran status until decades following the end of WWII, in 1988.