Merchant Mariners move closer to World War II honor

Every branch that contributed to America's success deserves attention.

Every branch that contributed to America's success deserves attention.

Yanira Perez, Staff writer

The Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019 passed the House and moved on to the Senate on September 19.

As a result of the bill, the Congressional Gold Medal may now be awarded to the U.S. Merchant Mariners of World War II, in recognition of their service during World War II.

Following the award of the medal, it shall be given to the American Merchant Marine Museum, where it shall be available for display and research.

In 1946, the first soldiers to win the Congressional Gold Medal for World War II were General George Catlett Marshall and Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King who helped develop and exam the army and the navy. The award was also given to Joe Lewis in 1982 for bolstering the spirit of America during World War II and the depression. In 2008, the Native American Code Talkers were honored as a group with the Congressional Gold Medal and two years later, the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service were recognized with the Medal.

In 2013, the First Special Service Force received a collective honor. On May 23, 2014, two groups were recipients of the award: Members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and the American Flying Aces. A week later, the award was given to members of the Civil Air Patrol for their contributions to protection in World War II, and in June of that year, the Monuments Men were also honored for protecting the artwork throughout the war.

In December of 2016, the Filipino World War II veterans and Office of Strategic Services were recognized for their contributions. Two years later, Larry Doby, a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, was honored for “ his achievements and contributions to American major league athletics, civil rights, and the Armed Forces during World War II,” according to Wikipedia. Chinese American Veterans of World War II were honored at that time as well.

The 116th Congress passed HR 550, allowing United States Merchant Marines to be honored for their service during World War II, joining the others who have received this medal in the past 75 years.

The Merchant Marines were responsible for providing resources for the completion of several missions and they played a role by ensuring reliable transoceanic transport of military equipment and personnel, despite exposure to enemy combatants. The Merchant Marines had a higher per-capita casualty rate than any other branch in the military.

If it passes the Senate, this award will be given to the American Merchant Marine Museum where it will be on display.

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