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Posted: January 6, 2020

Legislation honoring U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II approved by Senate


The following article was posted December 31, 2019 by the office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) applauded Senate passage of her bill, the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, to honor the Merchant Mariners who protected our nation during World War II. The bill would award a Congressional Gold Medal to the WWII mariners in recognition of their dedicated and vital service. The House successfully passed the companion bill in September, sponsored by Representative John Garamendi (D-CA). The Senate version of the bill now heads to the House for final approval.

"Despite their loyalty and patriotic services and commitment to the United States, our WWII Merchant Mariners didn't receive their veteran status until nearly forty years after the war had ended. The Merchant Mariners provided crucial services during WWII by transporting soldiers, tanks, airplanes, ammunition, fuel, and food to aid soldiers on the front lines. This legislation recognizes the unsung heroes of the WWII conflict, for their loyalty and bravery, as they risked their lives to keep the Allied troops properly equipped," said Senator Murkowski. "I'm thankful my Senate colleagues recognize the importance of honoring the brave Merchant Mariners for their pivotal role in our nation's history and their efforts in defense of freedom."

Background: The U.S. Merchant Marine transports soldiers and supplies for our nation's military through commercial, non-naval ships. It is estimated that around 8,300 Merchant Mariners died or went missing during WWII. As many as 12,000 were wounded, and 633 became prisoners of war. There are approximately 4,000 WWII Merchant Mariners still alive today.