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Merchant Marine

Accounts of the Korean War

The merchant marine is not a branch of the United States military, but its veterans and ships played significant roles in the Korean War (and other wars).  The merchant marine is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war materiel.  During World War II, one out of every 26 mariners were killed (a total of over 9,000).  Yet they were not considered "veterans" eligible for benefits under the GI Bill until the Seamen's Act of 1988 granted some wartime mariners (those who served during World War II in hazardous waters) benefits.  To date the seamen of the merchant marine do not have veteran status, including those who served in Korea.  Read about their struggle for such status at www.usmm.org/strugglevetstatus.html.

During the Korean War, the merchant marine brought some 75 percent of the personnel, as well as mail, food stuffs, ammunition, and a wide assortment of other supplies (around 90 percent of it) to the war zone.  The merchant marine was present at the Inchon Invasion and helped save lives during the evacuation of Hungnam during the Chosin Reservoir campaign.  Twenty mariners lost their lives in the line of duty during the Korean War.

This page of the Korean War Educator recognizes the role of the merchant marine during the war, and is provided to educate the public about the history of this unique group of dedicated mariners as it relates to the Korean War and beyond. The information found here has been supplied (with permission) from the U.S. Maritime Service Veterans website at www.usmm.org/ and from mariners in general who wish to inform the public about their maritime experiences.  Browse this page of the KWE to learn about the patriots of the Korean War whose country continues to deny them veteran status.  We encourage you to return often because this new page is currently under heavy construction.

Official merchant marine hymn
Words and Music by Lieut. (jg) Jack Lawrence, USMS, 1943

Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho!

Give us the oil, give us the gas
Give us the shells, give us the guns.
We'll be the ones to see them thru.
Give us the tanks, give us the planes.
Give us the parts, give us a ship.
Give us a hip hoo-ray!
And we'll be on our way.

Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!
It's a long, long way to go.
It's a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea,
Fighting the treacherous foe;
Heave Ho! My lads, Heave Ho!
Let the sea roll high or low,
We can cross any ocean, sail any river.
Give us the goods and we'll deliver,
Damn the submarine!
We're the men of the Merchant Marine!


Page Contents:

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From the US Merchant Marine Website

Korea: The First Shot (Military Sea Transportation Service in Korean War)

Authored by
Salvatore R. Mercogliano

In January of 1950, Captain Alexander F. Junker (USN) arrived in Tokyo, Japan to oversee the transfer of Army Transport Service personnel and ships to the newly established Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS).  Set to take place on July 1, Junker could not anticipate the magnitude of his assignment when six days prior to his assumption of command, forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the Republic of Korea.

President Harry S. Truman's decision to commit U.S. forces and to expand the Mutual Defense Assistance Program to South Korea forced Junker, and his fellow MSTS commander on the West Coast, Captain William R. Thayer to divert every possible ship to the Far East to support this effort. Junker immediately ordered the coastal transport USAT Sgt. George D. Keathley and the cargo ship USNS Cardinal O'Connell from their scheduled duties to transport vital ammunition to Pusan.

While the Commander of MSTS, Rear Admiral William M. Callaghan, and his staff coordinated the efforts of his regional deputies, the immediate need was to sealift combat forces to the Korean peninsula to stem the tide of North Korean aggression. Aircraft of the Military Air Transportation Service could not lift the necessary forces and its was up to MSTS, ships of the commercial U.S. merchant marine, and those broken out of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) to sustain the United Nation's effort in Korea.

By July 6, 1950, only 11 days after the initial invasion, MSTS was able to deploy the 24th Infantry Division from garrison duty in Japan, to the port of Pusan in South Korea. Two other divisions from Japan, the 25th Infantry and the 1st Cavalry Division were put ashore by the middle of that month.  However, these forces alone proved insufficient and MSTS demonstrated its versatility and capability to the military by deploying the 2d Infantry Division from its home station in Fort Lewis, Washington to Korea, in only 29 days, from July 17 to August 19, 1950. This movement required the use of 10 MSTS troop transports and 11 cargo ships, all but one a commercially chartered ship.

The commercial merchant marine formed the backbone of the bridge of ships across the Pacific. From just 6 ships under charter when the war began, this total peaked at 255. Over 85 percent of all the cargo shipped to Korea by sea came on board U.S. commercial shipping.  To initially fill the urgent shortfall in shipping, MSTS activated ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Some of these ships were utilized as part of the nucleus fleet and crewed by Civil Service merchant mariners. These included 12 transports, 6 cargo ships, 5 escort carriers (outfitted as aircraft transports), and 35 tankers.

Additionally, MSTS was given the responsibility for crewing two hospital ships being deployed to Korea. While undergoing its initial sea trials, and before its full civilian crew could be embarked, the USS Benevolence (T-AH 13) was rammed and sunk by the SS Mary Luckenbach off San Francisco on August 25, 1950. Out of a crew of 505, 23 died including the prospective master of the ship, Captain William "Pineapple Bill" Murray.  However, the USNS Repose (T-AH 16) did deploy with 168 civilian mariners on board and remained on station till October 28, when a naval crew replaced the merchant mariners. During their 32 days on station, the ship received and treated over 1,200 patients.  In addition to the ships assigned directly to MSTS, 130 laid-up Victory ships in the NDRF were broken out by the Maritime Administration and assigned under time-charters to private shipping firms, for charter to MSTS.

Since the United Nations sanctioned the action in defense of the Republic of Korea, other nations offered troops to serve on the peninsula, but many of them lacked the capability to deploy them, and MSTS served as a conduit. In 1951, the USNS General J. H. McRae, a C-4 "General" class troop transport, that served for MSTS Atlantic, operated between the ports of New York and Bremerhaven.  However with the crisis in Korea, MSTS altered its return voyage, and added several stops. From Bremerhaven, the ship called on the ports of Rotterdam, Piraeus, Djibouti, and finally Pusan where it delivered troops from the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, and Ethiopia, before returning back to New York with 2,000 veterans, and an additional 1,168 European refugees. All told the McRae sailed over 32,000 miles in 96 days.

Ships of the MSTS not only provided supplies but also served as naval auxiliaries. When the U.S. X Corps went ashore at Inchon in September 1950, 13 USNS cargo ships, 26 chartered American, and 34 Japanese-manned merchant ships, under the operational control of MSTS, participated in the invasion.

A few months later, merchant shipping again provided yeoman service by evacuating the same troops from the ports of Hungnam and Wonsan, following the intervention of the People's Republic of China into the conflict.  In an operation reminiscent of Dunkirk, 193 ship loads rescued 105,000 U.N. troops; 91,000 refugees; 350,000 MT of cargo; and 17,500 vehicles from encirclement and delivered them to the port of Pusan.  One ship in particular, the SS Meredith Victory under the command of Leonard P. La Rue, activated from the NDRF, operated by Moore-McCormick Lines, and licensed to carry 12 passengers, transported over 14,000 refugees in one single voyage. First mate D. S. Savastio, with nothing but first aid training, delivered five babies during the three-day passage to Pusan. Ten years later, the Maritime Administration honored the crew by awarding them a Gallant Ship Award.

The effects of the Korean War remain with the Military Sealift Command. Realizing the limitations of the World War II Maritime Commission-built fleet of merchant ships, Admiral Edward L. Cochrane initiated a program to foster ship construction in the U.S. and oversaw the design and building of 35 Mariner-class freighters. One of these ships, the ex-SS Empire State Mariner, is still in operation as the USNS Observation Island.

To alleviate fears within the commercial industry that MSTS did not intend to federalize the merchant marine, the Wilson-Weeks Act of July 1, 1954 limited the size of the nucleus fleet and established the priority by which shipping, particularly those in the NDRF and foreign-flags, could be obtained. Finally, the Cargo Preference Act of 1954 required that at least 50 percent of all government-owned or financed cargo be moved aboard commercially owned U.S. flag ships.

Military Sea Transportation Service's first test of fire, coming only nine months after its initial activation vindicated the concept of a unified sealift service under the Department of Defense.  In three years, MSTS transported more than 54 million measurement tons of cargo, nearly 5 million troops and passengers, and over 22 million long tons of petroleum. While these figures are impressive, the ships of the U.S. merchant marine and the MSTS continued to ply all the world's oceans. To Europe sailed cargo for the Marshall Plan, the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), and four U.S. divisions to partake in the new North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Into the Arctic and Antarctic, ships carried cargo to construct bases at Little America, Thule, and the Distant Early Warning Line. In 1951 MSTS began its involvement in the southeast Asian nation of Vietnam by delivering war material for French forces.  The Korean War proved to be only one of many challenges that faced MSTS and the American merchant marine.

Inchon Invasion
Military Sea Transportation Service and Merchant Ships Participating in Inchon, Korea Invasion

Korean War Task Organizations for Inchon Invasion -- September 15, 1950:

Second Echelon Movement Group 7th Infantry Division

  • African Pilot
  • African Rainbow
  • Aiken Victory (USNS)
  • Beaver Victory
  • California Bear
  • Empire Marshall
  • Fred C. Ainsworth (USNS)
  • General Leroy Eltinge (USNS)
  • Helen Lykes
  • Lawrence Victory
  • Meredith Victory
  • Mormacport
  • Private Sadao S. Munemori (USNS)
  • Robin Goodfellow
  • Robin Kirk
  • Southwind

Third Echelon Movement Group X Corps Troops

  • American Attorney
  • American Veteran
  • Belgium Victory
  • Bessemer Victory
  • Charles Lykes
  • Cotton State
  • Dolly Turman
  • Empire Wallace
  • General William Weigel (USNS)
  • Greenbay Victory
  • Luxembourg Victory
  • Marine Phoenix (USNS)
  • P. & T. Navigator
  • Robin Trent
  • Twin Falls Victory

Source: The Sea War in Korea, Malcolm W. Cagle and Frank A Manson, Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1957

Hungnam Evacuation

Military Sea Transportation Service and Merchant Ships Participating in Hungnam, Korea Redeployment

  • Alamo Victory
  • Argonan (Canadian registry)
  • Bedford Victory
  • Belgium Victory
  • Bet Jeanne (Norwegian registry)
  • Bet Ocean (Norwegian registry)
  • California
  • Canada Mail
  • Carleton Victory
  • Choctaw
  • Citrus Packer
  • Clarksburg Victory
  • Cornell Victory
  • Del Alba
  • Denise
  • Elly
  • Empire Marshall (British registry)
  • Empire Wallace (British registry)
  • Enid Victory
  • Exmouth Victory
  • Fred C. Ainsworth (USNS)
  • Gainesville Victory
  • General A. W. Brewster (USNS)
  • General D. I. Sultan (USNS)
  • General E. T. Collins (USNS)
  • General H. B. Freeman (USNS)
  • General S. Heintzelman (USNS)
  • Green Valley
  • Groton Trails
  • Helen Lykes
  • Hunter Victory
  • John Hanson
  • John Lyras (British registry)
  • Kelso Victory
  • Kenyon Victory
  • Lafayette Victory
  • Lane Victory
  • Letitia Lvkes
  • Madaket
  • Manderson Victory
  • Meredith Victory
  • Morgantown Victory
  • Mormacmoon
  • Nathaniel Palmer
  • New Zealand Victory
  • Norcuba
  • Paducah Victory
  • Provo Victory
  • Rider Victory
  • Robin Gray
  • Robin Hood
  • Robin Kirk
  • Sea Splendor
  • Sea Wind
  • Sergeant Andrew Miller (USNS)
  • Southwind
  • St. Augustine Victory
  • Taineron
  • Towanda Victory
  • Twin Falls Victory
  • Union Victory
  • Virginia City Victory
  • Wacosta
  • Wesleyan Victory

Source: The Sea War in Korea, Malcolm W. Cagle and Frank A Manson, Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1957

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Facts & Statistics


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Korean War Merchant Marine Casualties

The following casualty list was sent to the Korean War Educator by Dan Chasin. He reminded us that, "The true number is likely larger. Trips to and from Korea at this time were clouded in military secrecy."

Casualty, Age, Rank Home of Record Ship Casualty Date, Circumstance, Place Survivor
Andersen, Aage Egholm - age 32 - Chief Mate New Orleans, Louisiana Tillie Lykes 02/29/1952 - fall - Pusan Wife
Antonoff, Anthony J. - age 27 -2nd Ref. Engineer Youngstown, Ohio Fleetwood 02/26/1952 - gas accident - Pusan Mother
Blakely, George W. - age 51 - 3d Engineer 304 W. Norris, Philadelphia, PA George L. Duval 07/20/1953 - heart attack - Pusan Wife
Booker, Harold W. - age 24 - AB Baltimore, Maryland Cape Comfort 07/07/1952 - heart attack - at sea to Pusan Mother
Brake, James W. - age 29 - Seaman Washington, DC Tainaron 12/20/1950 - poison - Hungnam Mother
Broadway, Keith O. - age 34 - Seaman Sumter, South Carolina Tainaron 12/23/1950 - poison - Hungnam Wife
Budzinski, Stanley - age 36 - Utility Messman San Francisco, California Ampac Idaho 11/13/1953 - fall - Pusan Sister
Cage, Vincent Row - age 57 - Ship's Officer Mississippi (Gen. D.E. Aultman?) 08/30/1953 - heart attack Sister
Cliotes, Socrates J. - age 45 - Oiler Turkey Fleetwood 02/26/1952 - gas accident - Pusan Cousin
Deal, Clyde C. - age 44 - Seaman Seattle, Washington American 05/22/1952 - heart attack - Pusan Mother
Deible, Charles E. - age 49 - AB Kokomo, Indiana Mankato Victory 08/16/1951 - unknown - Pusan Wife
Downey, James Patrick - age 44 - Chief Cook Sommerville, Massachusetts Heywood Broun 09/11/1952 - stroke - Inchon Wife
Goldstein, Max D. - age 49 - Seaman New Orleans, Louisiana Oceanstar 09/29/1953 - natural causes - Kumsan Mother
Goomey, Leslie F. - Assistant Electrician   Walthham Victory 01/01/1952 - missing - Pusan Mother
Hampton, Leo - Fireman   Joseph Fonner 11/08/1953 - heart attack - Inchon  
Hansen, Amund - age 47 - 2nd Assistant Engineer Portland, Oregon Cecil N. Bean 07/06/1954 - heart attack - outbound Pusan Wife
High, Lewis W. - age 23 - Seaman Crichton, Alabama Citrus Packer 10/05/1950 - sniper - Inchon Wife
Jacobs, Frank C. - age 47 - Se3aman Baltimore, Maryland Gretna Victory 03/18/1952 - illness - Pusan Wife
Leonard, DeWitt Clinton - age 31 - Seaman Friendville, Maryland Alma Victory 11/12/1951 - unknown - at sea to Pusan Wife
Lesperance, Joseph M. - age 58 - electrician Marietta, Georgia Arizpa 01/30/1952 - heart attack - Inchon Wife
Lewis, Karl H. - age 55 - 3rd Assistant Engineer Chickasaw, Alabama City of Alma 03/11/1953 - heart attack - Inchon Wife
Mattson, Brynoff - age 61 - Carpenter New York City Hannibal Victory 09/09/1951 - collapsed, Pusan Daughter
Meyer, James Peter - age 62 - 2nd Mate San Pedro, California Noonday 12/15/1951 - heart attack - Inchon Wife
Miller, George W. - age 27 - Seaman Fulton, Missouri Citrus Packer 10/05/1950 - sniper - Inchon Mother
Moles, Rufino - age 62 - Utilityman San Francisco, California USNS Petaluma 10/14/1953 - heart  
Morales, Alfred J. - age 39 - Chief Engineer San Francisco, California Fleetwood 02/26/1952 - gas accident - Pusan Wife
Nordee, Albert - age 53 - Fireman Long Beach, California Nevadan 09/27/1953 - illness - Pusan Wife
Nufable, Espiridion M. Hoila City, Philippines (US Army) 11/22/1953 - Korea Father
Palmer, John Jr. - age 20 - Seaman San Francisco, California Rutgers Victory 03/06/1951 - illness - Pusan Wife
Perry, William F. - age 56 - Oiler San Francisco, California USNS Cedar Creek 05/27/1953 - heart attack - Pusan Daughter
Porpora, Silvestre E.U. - Seaman New York City, New York USNS Mission San Gabriel 03/23/1952 - fall - Inchon Mother
Puig, Joseph R. - age 35 - Wiper Tampa, Florida Harold T. Andrius? 12/12/1954 - illness - Pusan Mother
Rowland, Robert F. - age 33 - 3rd Assistant Engineer Honolulu, Hawaii USNS Mission San Fernando 09/30/1954 - overboard - Pusan Mother
Spencer, Harvey J. - Seaman Richmond, California Oceanic 09/03/1953 - illness - Inchon Sister
Stephenson, George W. - age 34 - Deck Maintenance Evansville, Indiana Choctaw 10/03/1952 - lost overboard - at sea to Pusan Mother
Strachan, Alexander - age 54  - Seaman Scotland Bessemer Victory 03/19/1952 - illness - at sea to Pusan Sister
Tennent, Joseph T. - age 56 - Seaman   Tainaron 12/20/1950 - poison - Hungnam  
Thomas, Lemuel A. - age 37 - Seaman Glendale, California Tainaron 12/20/1950 - poison - Hungnam Mother
Thompson, William F. - age 42 - Seaman Ocala, Florida Arizpa 10/01/1951 - overboard - at sea Mother
Thurston, Charles O. -age 68 - Chief Electrician Seattle, Washington MV Shooting Star 12/25/1954 - heart attack - at sea to Pusan Wife
Tivao, Tavita        
Weber, Robert J. - age 28 - Ship's Agent Touchet, Washington C.F. Sharp & Co. 11/17/1951 - accident - Pusan Brother
Wilkerson, William R. - age 23 - Bosun Ashville, North Carolina South Bend Victory 09/29/1951 - drowned - Kohsicha Island Father

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Merchant/MSTS Ships in the Korean War

President Truman Praises Merchant Marine

A "WELL DONE" has been signaled by President Truman to the American merchant marine for its outstanding support of the United Nations forces in Korea, while at the same time continuing to perform its normal task of moving the nation's commerce, Hugh Gallagher, National President of the Propeller Club of the United States, disclosed.

Mr. Gallagher said the President, in a letter saluting the club's silver jubilee convention and the eighteenth annual merchant marine Conference, asserted that all segments of maritime labor and management could well be proud of the accomplishments of the nation's merchant fleet, both in its defense and normal pursuits.

President Truman declared that the American merchant marine has played an important role in the maintenance of the American way of life and also in bulwarking the anti-Communist defenses of freedom-loving nations everywhere. He pointed out that support for the Allied forces in Korea had not interfered with the movement of mountains of foreign aid goods to friendly nations in other parts of the world, nor with the merchant fleet's year-round task of transporting the export products of our farms and industries.

In his letter to Mr. Gallagher the President termed this year's theme, which was "The American merchant marine --- indispensable to our freedom," particularly fitting in view of pressures being exerted against our freedom. He also expressed hope that the conference would deal with ways whereby we can preserve this freedom. - MAST Magazine, November, 1951

Merchant Ships

The following list from the "Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual", U.S. Navy 1956, includes merchant ships which were in the war zone during the Korean War. Presence in the war zone during specified dates entitled mariners to the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal. Ships not listed in the above book were added to the list by visitors to the US merchant marine website.  An asterisk denotes a foreign-flag ship.  Ships marked with double asterisk were Korean flag and crew but with American Captain, Chief Engineer, and Radio Officer who were on board these vessels instructing the Koreans when the war started.

Three asterisks: In 1949, prior to the start of the Korean War, Captain Al Meschter and Chief Engineer Albert C. Willis were assigned to the SS Kimball R. Smith to train the Korean crew. This was one of the five "Baltic Coaster" class ships loaned to South Korea by the U.S. government.  While Meschter and Willis were on the ship, the Korean crew mutinied and took the ship to a North Korean port where Meschter and Willis were interned for eighty-one days before being released to Ambassador Muccio at the 38th Parallel. SS Kimball R. Smith was then used by North Koreans during the War.

Ships - Merchant

To add detailed information and pictures on the KWE about any of the ships listed below, contact lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org.


A - L

M - Z

  • Acorn Knot
  • Adelphia Victory
  • Admiral Dewey
  • Adrian Victory
  • Afoundria
  • African Glade
  • African Grooe
  • African Moon
  • African Patriot
  • African Pilgrim
  • African Pilot
  • African Rainbow
  • African Star
  • Aiken Victory
  • Alamo Victory
  • Alaskan
  • Albion Victory
  • Alfred Victory
  • Allegheny Victory
  • Alma Victory
  • Amarillo Victory
  • American
  • American Attorney
  • American Eagle
  • American Press
  • American Veteran
  • American Victory
  • Amerocean
  • Amersea
  • Amos G. Throop
  • Ampac Idaho
  • Ampac Nevada
  • Ampac Oregon
  • Anacostia
  • Angus Glenn*
  • Angus McDonald
  • Anne Butler
  • Annie C.
  • Annioc
  • Anniston Victory
  • Apollo
  • Arcadia Victory
  • Argovan*
  • Arizpa
  • Asbury Victory
  • Atlantic Water
  • Atlanticus
  • Audrey II
  • Augustine Daly
  • B. T. Irvine
  • Badger Mariner
  • Barbara Fritchie
  • Barbara Lykes
  • Barenfels*
  • Barnard Victory
  • Barney Krishbaum
  • Bartlesville Victory
  • Baton Rouge Victory
  • Baylor Victory
  • Beatrice Victory
  • Beauregard
  • Beaver Victory
  • Bedford Victory
  • Belgium Victory
  • Belocean*
  • Beloit Victory
  • Benjamin Hawkins
  • Berea Victory
  • Bessemer Victory
  • Binghampton Victory
  • Black Eagle
  • Bloomington Victory
  • Blue Cross State
  • Blue Field Victory
  • Blue Island Victory
  • Blue Star
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Boulder Victory
  • Bowdoin Victory
  • Boy
  • Brainerd Victory
  • Brazil Victory
  • Brigham Victory
  • Bright Star
  • Britain Victory
  • Buckeye Mariner
  • Bucknell Victory
  • Bucyrus Victory
  • Burbank Victory
  • Burco Trader
  • C.C.N.Y. Victory
  • Cache
  • Cahaba
  • California
  • California Bear
  • Californian
  • Canada Mail
  • Caney
  • Canton Victory
  • Cape Comfort
  • Cape Elizabeth
  • Cape Saunders
  • Capt. N. B. Palmer
  • Carlton Victory
  • Carroll Victory
  • Catawba Victory
  • Catherine Goulandris
  • Cecil N. Bean
  • Cedar Creek
  • Central Victory
  • Chain Trader
  • Charles Lykes
  • Charles M. Conrad
  • Charles McNary
  • Charles Winsor**
  • Chepacket
  • China Victory
  • Choctau
  • Christain
  • Christine
  • Christos M.
  • Citrus Packer
  • City of Alma
  • Clarksburg Victory
  • Clarksville Victory
  • Clearwater Victory
  • Clove Hitch
  • Clovis Victory
  • Coastal Sentry
  • Codington
  • Coe Victory
  • Coeur d'Alene Victory
  • Cohocton
  • Columbia Trader
  • Compass
  • Constitution State
  • Cooper Union Victory
  • Coral Sea
  • Cornell Victory
  • Cornhusker Mariner
  • Cossatot
  • Cotton Mariner
  • Cotton State
  • Council Bluffs Victory
  • Cowanesque
  • Creighton Victory
  • Cuba Victory
  • David B. Johnson
  • David W. Field
  • De Pauw Victory
  • Del Aires
  • Del Alba
  • Denise
  • Diamond Mariner
  • Digby County
  • Ditto
  • Dolly Turman
  • Dorothy Stevenson
  • Drury Victory
  • Dudley Thomas
  • Duke Victory
  • Durango Victory
  • Earlham Victory
  • East Point Victory
  • Edison Mariner
  • Edwin Markhan
  • Eileen
  • Elby
  • Elko Victory
  • Elly
  • Elmira Victory
  • Empire Marshall*
  • Empire State Mariner
  • Empire Viceroy
  • Empire Wallace*
  • Enid Victory
  • Escambia
  • Escanaba Victory
  • Ethiopia Victory
  • Eugenie
  • Exmouth
  • Fairhope
  • Federal Voyager
  • Ferdinand Westfall
  • Flora C.
  • Frederic C. Collins
  • Frederick Brouchard
  • Frederick Collin
  • Frederick E. Williamson
  • Free State Mariner
  • Fribourg Trader
  • Frontenac Victory
  • Furman Victory
  • Gainsville Victory
  • Gen. George Patton
  • George A. Lawson
  • George Culuaunds
  • George Eastman
  • George F. Duval
  • Golden City
  • Golden Mariner
  • Great Falls Victory
  • Greece Victory
  • Greeley Victory
  • Green Bay Victory
  • Green Harbor
  • Green Star
  • Green Valley
  • Gretna Victory
  • Grinnell Victory
  • Groton Trails
  • Gulf Water
  • Halalua Victory
  • Hamilton Victory
  • Hannibal Victory
  • Harold Andrews
  • Harold D. Whitehead
  • Harold L. Winslow
  • Harpoon
  • Harvard Victory
  • Hattiesburg Victory
  • Hawaii Bear
  • Hawaiian
  • Hawkeye Mariner
  • Helen Lykes
  • Helen Stevenson
  • Hendry D. Lindsley
  • Heywood Brown
  • Hibbing Victory
  • High Point Victory
  • Hobart Victory
  • Holy Star
  • Honda Knot
  • Hongkong Transport
  • Hoosier Mariner
  • Hoosier State
  • Hope Victory
  • Hunter Victory
  • Hurricane
  • Ike (former Sea Daring)
  • Iran Victory
  • Irene Star
  • Isaac Van Zandt
  • Israel Putnam
  • James B. Weaver
  • James H. Couper
  • James H. Price
  • James McHenry
  • Jefferson City Victory
  • Jelandside
  • Jericho Victory
  • John B. Whidden**
  • John Ball
  • John C.
  • John H. B. Lathrobe
  • John H. Marion
  • John Hanson
  • John Howland
  • John Kulkundis
  • John L. Sullivan
  • John Lyras
  • John Paul Jones
  • John T. McMillan
  • John W. McKay
  • John W. Powell
  • Joliet Victory
  • Joplin Victory
  • Jose Marti
  • Joseph Feuer
  • Joseph Lee
  • Joseph Priestly
  • Josuah Slocum
  • Jumper Hitch
  • Katharine B. Sherwood
  • Kelso Victory
  • Kenneth Stevenson
  • Kenyon Victory
  • Kern
  • Keystone Mariner
  • Kimball R. Smith***
  • Knox Victory
  • Lafayette
  • Lafayette Victory
  • Lahaina Victory
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Lake Pennask
  • Lakeland Victory
  • Lakeside*
  • Lakewood Victory
  • Lane Victory
  • Laredo Victory
  • Lawrence Victory
  • Letitia Lykes
  • Lewis H. Emory Jr.
  • Liberty Bell
  • Liberty Flag
  • Lilica
  • Linfield Victory
  • Lipari
  • Loma Victory
  • Lone Star Mariner
  • Longview Victory
  • Loyola Victory
  • Lucille Bloomfield
  • Lumber Carrier
  • Lumberman*
  • Luxembourg Victory
  • Lynn Victory
  • M. E. Comerford
  • Macalester Victory
  • Madaket
  • Malden Victory
  • Manderson Victory
  • Mankato Victory
  • Marine Snapper
  • Mariner
  • Marquette Victory
  • Marshfield Victory
  • Martin Behrman
  • Marven
  • Mary Adams
  • Mary J. Goulandris
  • Mascoma
  • Massillon Victory
  • Mayfield Victory
  • Meredith Victory
  • Meridian Victory
  • Michael J. Goulandris
  • Michael Moran
  • Millicoma
  • Minot Victory
  • Mission Buenaventura
  • Mission Capistrano
  • Mission Carmel
  • Mission De Pala
  • Mission Dolores
  • Mission Loreto
  • Mission Los Angeles
  • Mission Purisima
  • Mission San Antonio
  • Mission San Carlos
  • Mission San Diego
  • Mission San Fernando
  • Mission San Francisco
  • Mission San Gabriel
  • Mission San Jose
  • Mission San Juan
  • Mission San Luis Obispo
  • Mission San Miguel
  • Mission San Rafael
  • Mission Santa Ana
  • Mission Santa Barbara
  • Mission Santa Cruz
  • Mission Solano
  • Mission Soledad
  • Mohawk
  • Mohican
  • Monroe Victory
  • Morgantown Victory
  • Mormacdale
  • Mormacelm
  • Mormacmar
  • Mormacmoon
  • Mormacpine
  • Mormacport
  • Mormacrio
  • Mormacson
  • Mormacspruce
  • Mormactide
  • Mormacwave
  • Morning Light
  • Mother M. L.
  • Mountain Mariner
  • Muhlenberg Victory
  • Muir Woods
  • Nashua Victory
  • Nat Brown **
  • Nathaniel Crosley
  • Navajo Victory
  • Neptunes
  • Nevadan
  • New Rochelle Victory
  • New World Victory
  • New Zealand Victory
  • Newaden
  • Newcastle Victory
  • Niantic Victory
  • Nicholas C. H.
  • Nigel
  • Noon Day
  • Norcuba
  • North Heaven
  • North Light
  • North Pilot (former Westchester)
  • North Platte Victory
  • North Sky
  • Northport
  • Norwalk Victory
  • Norwich Victory
  • Nutmeg Mariner
  • Oberlin Victory
  • Ocala Victory
  • Occidental Victory
  • Ocean Betty
  • Ocean Lotte
  • Ocean Navigator
  • Ocean Seaman
  • Ocean Skipper
  • Ocean Star
  • Ocean Victory
  • Ocean Villa
  • Oceanic
  • Ocklawaha
  • Old Colony Mariner
  • Old Dominion Mariner
  • Old Dominion State
  • Olympic Pioneer
  • Omega
  • Ontonagon
  • Oregon Trader
  • Oregonian
  • Oshkosh Victory
  • P & T Explorer
  • P & T Navigator
  • P & T Pathfinder
  • Pacific Victory
  • Paducah Victory
  • Palmetto Mariner
  • Pamanset
  • Pan American Victory
  • Park Benjamin
  • Pecos
  • Pegor
  • Pelegia (former Sea World)
  • Pelican Mariner
  • Petaluma
  • Peter Del II*
  • Pierre Victory
  • Pine Tree Mariner
  • Pioneer Dale
  • Pioneer Valley
  • Piscataqua
  • Plymouth Victory
  • Portland Trader
  • Prairie Mariner
  • President Harrison
  • Princeton Victory
  • Provo Victory
  • Purdue Victory
  • Purple Star
  • Queens Victory
  • Ragnor Naess (former Sea Pender)
  • Red Oak Victory
  • Reef Knot
  • Rheinholt (Norwegian flag)
  • Rice Victory
  • Richard H. Davis
  • Rider Victory
  • Rincon
  • Robert B. Forbes
  • Robert G. Ingersoll
  • Robin Goodfellow
  • Robin Gray
  • Robin Hood
  • Robin Kirk
  • Robin Mowbray
  • Robin Trent
  • Rock Springs Victory
  • Rose Knot
  • Rutgers Victory
  • Sailor's Splice
  • San Mateo Victory
  • Santa Clara Victory
  • Santa Venetia
  • Sappa Creek
  • Sapulpa Victory
  • Saugatuck
  • Saxon
  • Schuyler
  • Schuyler Otis Bland
  • Schuylkill
  • Sea Bon
  • Sea Champion
  • Sea Cliff
  • Sea Comet II
  • Sea Coral
  • Sea Coronet
  • Sea Daring
  • Sea Faith
  • Sea Fort
  • Sea Garden
  • Sea Gate
  • Sea Glamor
  • Sea Glider
  • Sea Globe
  • Sea Herald
  • Sea Leader
  • Sea Legend
  • Sea Life
  • Sea Manor
  • Sea Merchant
  • Sea Merit (former Simon Benson)
  • Sea Monitor
  • Sea Mystery
  • Sea Pender
  • Sea Ranger
  • Sea Splendor
  • Sea Star
  • Sea Victory
  • Sea Wind
  • Sea World
  • Seaborne
  • Sebec
  • Selma Victory
  • Seton Hall Victory
  • Sharon Victory
  • Shawnee Trail
  • Shinecock Bay
  • Simmons Victory
  • Sioux Falls Victory
  • Soubarissen
  • South Bend Victory
  • Southwestern Victory
  • St. Augustine Victory
  • Stathes Yamaglias*
  • Stock Star
  • Suamico
  • Sue Lykes
  • Sunion
  • Susquehanna
  • Swarthmore Victory
  • Sword Knot
  • Tabitha Brown
  • Taddei
  • Tainaron
  • Tallulah
  • Tamalpais
  • Tar Heel Mariner
  • Texan
  • Thunderbird
  • Timber Hitch
  • Tomahawk
  • Towanda Victory
  • Transamerican
  • Transatlantic
  • Transoceanic
  • Transpacific
  • Transunion
  • Trinity Victory
  • Trojan Trader
  • Tucson Victory
  • Tulane Victory
  • Tuskegee Victory
  • Twin Falls Victory
  • Union Victory
  • USO Victory
  • Valdosta Victory
  • Vanderbilt Victory
  • Vercharmain*
  • Virginia City Victory
  • Volunteer Mariner
  • Wabash
  • Wake Forest Victory
  • Walcosta
  • Walter F. Perry
  • Waltham Victory
  • Walton*
  • Warrior
  • Warwick Victory
  • Wellesley Victory
  • Wesleyan Victory
  • West Linn Victory
  • Westchester
  • Western Ocean
  • Western Rancher
  • Western Trader
  • Westport
  • William Carruth
  • William Clagatate
  • William Coddington
  • William Eaton
  • William F. Lester**
  • William McLean
  • William Wilmer
  • Wolverine Mariner
  • Woodstock Victory
  • Xavier Victory
  • Yankee Pioneer
  • Yugoslavia Victory

Ships - MSTS (Military Sea Transport Service)

The following ships were eligible for the Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal and for Engagement Stars. Data from: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, 1953, 1956, 1957; *The Sea War in Korea, Malcolm W. Cagle and Frank A Manson, Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute, 1957;**Dictionary of American Fighting Ships: www.hazegray.org/danfs/auxil/ap112.htm.  To add detailed information and pictures on the KWE about any of the ships listed below, contact lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org.

  • Aiken Victory (TAP 188)
  • Archer P. Gammon (TAK 243)
  • Barrett (TAP 166)
  • Canton Victory
  • Cardinal O'Connell (TAKV 7)
  • Dalton Victory (TAR 216)
  • David C. Shanks (TAP 180)
  • Fred C. Ainsworth (TAP 181)
  • Frederick Funston (TAP 178)
  • General A. E. Anderson (TAP-111)**
  • General A. W. Brewster (TAP 155)
  • General A. W. Greeley (TAP 141)
  • General B. B. Aultman (TAP 156)
  • General B. M. Blatchford (TAP 153)
  • General C. C. Ballou (TAP 157)
  • General C. G. Morton (TAP 138)
  • General C. H. Muir (TAP 142)
  • General Daniel I. Sultan (TAP 120)
  • General E. T. Collins (TAP 147)
  • General Edwin D. Patrick (TAP 124)
  • General George M. Randall (TAP-115)**
  • General H. B. Freeman (TAP 143)
  • General Hugh J. Gaffey (TAP 121)
  • General H. W. Butner (TAP-113)**
  • General J. C. Breckinridge (TAP-176)**
  • General J. H. McRae (TAP 149)
  • General John Pope (TAP 110)
  • General Leroy Eltinge (TAP 154)
  • General M. C. Meigs (TAP 116)
  • General Mason M. Patrick (TAP 150)
  • General M. B. Stewart (TAP 140)
  • General M. L. Hersey (TAP 148)**
  • General N. M. Walker (TAP 125)
  • General R. L. Howze (TAP 134)
  • General S. B. Sturgis (TAP 137)
  • General Simon B. Buckner (TAP 123)
  • General Stuart Heintzelman (TAP 159)
  • General W. A. Mann (TAP 112)**
  • General W. C. Langfitt (TAP 151)
  • General W. F. Hase (TAP 146)
  • General W. H. Gordon (TAP 117)
  • General W. M. Black (TAP 135)
  • General W. O. Darby (TAP 127)
  • General William Mitchell (TAP 114)**
  • General William Weigel (TAP 119)
  • Hennepin (TAK 187)
  • James O'Hara (TAP 179)
  • Lt. George W. G. Boyce (TAK 251)
  • Lt. Raymond O. Beaudoin (TAP 189)
  • Marias (TAO 57)Marine Adder (TAP 193)
  • Marine Carp (TAP 199)
  • Marine Lynx (TAP 194)
  • Marine Phoenix (TAP 195)
  • Marine Serpent (TAP 202)
  • Mission Los Angeles (TAO 117)
  • Mission Purisima (TAO 118)
  • Mission Santa Barbara (TAO 131)
  • Mission Santa Clara (TAO 132)
  • Mission Santa Ynez (TAO 134)
  • Mission Solano (TAO 135)
  • Mission Soledad (TAO 136)
  • Nelson M. Walker (TAP 125)
  • Petaluma (TAOG 79)
  • Piscataqua (TAOG 80)
  • Private P. Martinez (TAP 187)
  • Private Sadao S. Munemore (TAP 190)
  • Sgt. Andrew Miller*
  • Sgt Jack J. Pendleton (TAKV 5)
  • Sgt. Howard E. Woodford (TAP 191)
  • Sgt. G. D. Keathley (T-APC 117)
  • Sgt. Joseph E. Muller (T-APC 118)
  • Sgt. Sylvester Antolak (TAP 192)
  • Sgt. Truman Kimbro (TAK 254)

Back to Page Contents

Memoirs of Korean War Merchant Mariners


Back to Page Contents

Merchant Marine Service Organizations

American Merchant Marine Veterans Organization

About the Organization
Directory of Regions & Chapters

AMMV NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS - Cape Coral, Florida - P.O. Box 151205, Cape Coral, FL 33915-1205 Contact: Ammv

CENTRAL REGION, Regional Vice President, J.B. Burt Young (402) 488-1576

COLORADO - Denver, Colorado Clarke Valles 7865 East Mississippi Ave #1008 Denver, CO 80231, 303-377-5716. We meet 10:00 a.m., the 2nd Wednesday of the lst month of every quarter (July, Oct, Jan, Mar) at The American Legion Dept. of Colorado, 7465 E. lst Ave., Ste D, Denver, CO (Lowry AFB).

HEART OF AMERICA - Kansas City, Missouri. 7216 E. 112th St. Kansas City MO, 64134-3306. Contact: Ray Ebeling (913) 906-9019 or Paul Lamp (816) 436-3309 or Eugene Barner (913) 441-6216. Meets monthly on the 2nd Friday at 11:00 AM at the Dwight Cowles American Legion Post, 7500 W 75th Street, Overland Park, KS.

MO VALLEY MARINERS - Lincoln, Nebraska 1911 Greenbriar Lane, Lincoln, NE 68506-1673. Contact: Paul J. Coyle (402) 489-6727 or Burt Young (402) 488-1576, e-mail, or J.W. Jack Wolff (402) 397-7921. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at Old Country Buffet, 701 Galvin Road, Bellevue, NE at 11:00 AM to 12 Noon. Luncheon meeting.

VIKING MARINERS - Minneapolis, Minnesota 3449 Valento Circle, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127-7170. Contact: Milford Tobin, e-mail, (651) 489-6454. Meets monthly on the 2nd Monday, 10:00 AM at the American Legion Post 435, 65th and Portland South, Richfield.

DIXIE REGION, Regional Vice President, Jules Burg (228) 388-6512

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST - Biloxi, Mississippi c/o Jules Burg, 2562 Bryn Mawr Ave, Biloxi, MS 39531-4707. Contact: Jules Burg (228) 388-6512 or 'Dub' Bourgeois (228) 864-7936. E-mail contact Capt. J. W. Clark, e-mail. Meets monthly on the 3rd Tuesday at 11:00 AM at the Biloxi Beachfront Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn,) Dauphin Room, 2400 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Lunch optional.

MID SOUTH - Hendersonville, Tennessee - 1220 Orchard Mountain Court, Antioch, TN 37013. Contact: Vincent Patterson (615) 264-7038 or Samuel H. Pearsall (615) 883-4545. Meets monthly 3rd Saturday, 2:00 PM various locations. Call for details.

TRI-STATE - Chattanooga, Tennessee - c/o 721 Pan Gap Road, Chattanooga, TN 37419-1211. Contact: George Adkison (423) 892-6439 or Dr. David Stevens (423) 396-2985 or James Stancil (423) 825-0629. Meets on the 2nd Saturday at 6:00 PM every odd month beginning with January, March, May, July, September, and November at Wally's Restaurant, 1758 Ringgold Road, East Ridge, TN. They also meet on the 2nd Saturday at 2:00 PM at the Lookout Valley Lions Club, 9 Aster Avenue, Chattanooga, in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

VULCAN MARINERS - Birmingham, Alabama - 200 South 88th St., Birmingham, AL 35206 . Contact: David Luck - 205-854-3322 or Bruce Mealins - 205-823-4680. Meets on the 2nd Thursday at 11:00 A.M. at the Golden Corral Family Steak House, 101 Cahaba Valley Parkway E, Pelham.

GREAT LAKES REGION, Regional Vice President, Frank Dorner (773) 376-3747

MIDWEST - Chicago, Illinois - 2437 West 46th Place, Chicago, IL 60632-1313. Contact: Frank Nicosia, 708-484-5588. Meets on the 1st Saturday of January, March, May, June, September, and November at 10:30 AM for coffee - 11:00 AM meeting - 12 Noon lunch (FREE) at the American Legion Post No. 854, 9701 South Kedzie Avenue, Evergreen Park.

OKI-TRI-STATE REGION, Regional Vice President C.E. 'Bert' Hinds (513) 874-5606

BUCKEYE MARINERS - Norwalk, Ohio - 6A Deer Track Trail, Norwalk, OH 44857. Contact: John Digrundo (440) 988-5201 or George R. Sandiford (440) 988-2529. Meets monthly on the 3rd Monday at 8:30 AM at the Farmer Boy Restaurant, Rt. 113, South Amherst. Breakfast optional. POB 213, Ashtabula, OH 44005-0213. Contact: Dick Collins (440) 428-4511. Meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday at 12 Noon sharp for Lunch at the American Legion Hall, Carpenter Road, Ashtabula. Meeting at 1300 hrs.

OHIO VALLEY - Cincinnati, Ohio - P.O. Box 62563 Attn. Bert Hinds, Cincinnati, OH 45626-2563. Contact: Bert Hinds (513) 874-5606. e-mail. Meets bi-monthly on the second Wednesday of the month at Ryan's Steak House, adjacent to the East Gate Shopping Center.

GULF REGION, Regional Vice President, Bill Hessi 314-631-7126

EASTERN OKLAHOMA - Tulsa, OK - c/o Karl Kinney. 406 E. 76th St. N., Sperry, OK 74073-3937. Contact: Karl Kinney or Helen Kinney (918) 425-1937

LONE STAR - Houston, Texas - P.O. Box 34513, Houston, TX 77234-4513. Contact: R.R. Richard (713) 944-3311 or Capt. Jim Titus (281) 337-3131. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 10:30 AM, Seaman's Club, Port of Houston.

OKLAHOMA MARINER - Oklahoma City 2766 County Street 2960 Alex, OK 73002-2226. Contact: Don Hay (402) 224-6365. Meets monthly on the 2nd Saturday at the VA Hospital, 921 NE 13th Street, Oklahoma City.

SS SAMUEL PARKER - St. Louis, Missouri - P.O. Box 20107, St. Louis, MO 63123-0307. Contact: George Ward (636) 282-0071 or Bill Hessi (314) 631-7126, e-mail, or SIU Hall (314) 752-6500. Meets monthly on the 4th Monday at 10:00 AM at SIU Hall, 4581 Gravois Avenue, St. Louis.

SS STEPHEN HOPKINS - DeSoto, Texas 605 Laguna Drive, Richardson TX 75080-6929. Contact: Bill Bentley (972) 223-0421, e-mail, or John McSpadden (817) 281-0770. Meets monthly on the 4th Saturday at 10:30AM (except July and Dec.) at the American Legion Post 379, 1245 N. Industrial Blvd., Bedford.

MID-ATLANTIC REGION, Regional Vice President, George Goldman (201) 692-9031

DENNIS A. ROLAND - New Jersey - P.O. Box 306, Midland Park, NJ 07432-0306.  North Branch Contact: Al Forster (201) 487-1319 or George Goldman (201) 692-9031. North Branch meets the 2nd Saturday at 10:00AM at Seamen's Church Institute, 118 Export Street, Port Newark, NJ. This is a luncheon meeting.  South Branch Contact: Lew Truhan (609) 931-6975. South Branch meets monthly on the 3rd Saturday at 10:00 AM at Gloucester Municipal Complex, 1261 Chews Landing Road, Laurel Springs, NJ. Luncheon meeting.  East Branch Contact: Bert Christensen (732) 269-9451, e-mail. East Branch meets monthly on the third Wednesday of each month, at 1100 AM, at Brick Township Recreation Center on Chambersbridge Road, Brick Tsp. This will be our NEW meeting place. All mm Vets are invited to attend. Coffee, cake, and good fellowship.

NORTHEAST REGION, Regional Vice President Gloria Flora Nicolich (718) 853-4419.

BROOKLYN - New York - 258 Senator Street, Brooklyn, NY 11220. Contact: Louis O. Hale - (718) 246-5309 or A.J. LaTorres - (718) 833-8027. Meets monthly on the 1st Friday at 12 Noon. Call for location.

DOWN EAST - Dennysville, Maine - P.O. Box 35, East Vassalboro, ME 04935-0035. Contact: C. Blodgett (207) 326-4512 or Lawrence Bartlett (207) 923-3007. Meets monthly on the 3rd Tuesday at 12 Noon at the White Birches Restaurant, Route 1, Ellsworth.

EDWIN J. OHARA - New York, New York - 241 Water Street, New York, NY 10038-2016. Contact: Arnold Johnston - (212) 489-9748 or Gloria Nicolich, e-mail - (718) 853-4419. Meets monthly on the LAST Saturday at 1:00 PM at the Seamen's Church Institute, 241 Water Street, New York City. Welcome to Edwin J. O'Hara ChapterGENE DELONG HUDSON VALLEY - P.O. Box 525, Baldwin Place, NY 10505. Contact: Wally , President (518) 371-9162, e-mail; Ed Bamberger, 1st VP (845) 292-6208, or Jack Hill, 2nd VP (845) 638-0135, Ted Donaher, Editor, The HeavingLine. Meets monthly on the 4th Tuesday at 11:00 AM at Youngest Brother Restaurant, Route 9 W., Newburgh. Luncheon meeting.

KINGS POINT - Kings Point, New York - American Merchant Marine Museum, Kings Point, NY 11024. Contact: Charles Renick (516) 466-9669 or Richard Mallet (516) 754-2698, e-mail. Please call for information.

NEW ENGLAND - Wareham, Massachusetts - 74 Pinehurst Road, Marshfield, MA 02050. Contact: Larry Brooks (508) 295-8257 or Jack Goodhue (508) 993-7797; e-mail. Meets monthly on the 1st Sunday at 1:00 PM at. the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Harrington Building, Buzzards Bay. Satellite Luncheon: Monthly on the 2nd Monday at 11:30 AM, Holiday Inn, Traffic Circle, Portsmouth, NH. New England Chapter AMMV

NORTH ATLANTIC - Bay Shore, New York - 23 Hollywood Ave., Massapequa, NY 11758-6753. Contact: Hank Cap (516) 589-0733, e-mail. Meets monthly on the 4th Friday at 1:00 PM at Bay Shore Brightwaters Library, Main Street and Windsor Avenue, Bay Shore.

OSWEGO RIVER VALLEY - Fulton, New York - 2948 State Route 3, Fulton, NY 13069-4881. Contact: Keith Baker (315) 592-5608 Meets monthly on the 4th Tuesday . Call for time and location.

PECONIC BAY - Greenport, New York - PO Box 139, Wading River, NY 11792-0139. Contact: Ed Kruszeski (631) 477-0731 or Peter Kenny (631) 749-1373. Meets monthly on the 2nd Saturday at 11:00 AM at the Crystal Garden Restaurant, King Kullen Plaza, Riverhead.

ROBERT BEDELL - Lancaster, New York - P.O. Box 491 - Lancaster, NY 14086-0491. Contact: Robert Lowman (716) 675-7588. Meets monthly on the 1st Thursday at 1:30 PM at the Polish Falcons Hall, 445 Columbia, Depew.

STATEN ISLAND - Staten Island, New York - 239 Bryson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314. Contact: Benedict Silano (718) 698-3682 or Angelo D'Alessio (718) 761-9186. Meets monthly on the 1st Tuesday at 11:00AM at Lee's Tavern, 60 Hancock Street, Dongan Hills. Luncheon meeting.

NORTHWEST REGION, Regional Vice President, Bob Barbee 360-681-3802

ALASKA GREATLAND - Nikiski, Alaska - P.O. Box 8002, Port Nikiski, AK 99635. Contact: Ken Yearsley (907)776-8365.

CASCADE MARINERS - Battle Ground, Washington - P.O. Box 829, Battle Ground, WA 98604-0829. Contact: Bill Gunn (360) 673-2115 or Ruby Martin (360) 687-4163. Meets monthly on the 3rd Thursday at 12 Noon at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course-On Deck Restaurant, 1701 NW 299th Street, Ridgefield, WA.

EMERALD SEA - Eugene, Oregon - 2785 Riverview, Eugene, OR 97403-2290 Contact: Joe Johnson (541) 342-4433. Meets monthly on the 3rd Tuesday at 11:30 AM at the Veterans Hall, Willamette St, Eugene. Luncheon meeting.

JUAN DE FUCA - Carlsborg, Washington - P.O. Box 246, Carlsborg, WA 98324-0246. Contact: Harold 'Bud' Schmidt (360) 683-1550, e-mail, or Betty Ellis (360) 681-3932. Meets monthly (except September) on the 1st Monday at 1:00 PM at Clallam County Veterans Center, E. 3rd & Francis Streets, Port Angeles.

LOWER COLUMBIA - Astoria, Oregon - P.O. Box 231, Astoria, OR 97103-0231. Contact: Frank Wolden (503) 755-0517. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 12 Noon at various area restaurants. Phone for location. Luncheon meeting.

MID-COLUMBIA - Kennewick, Washington - 1020 So. Conway Street, Kennewick, WA 99337. Contact: Bob & Janell Cauble, (509) 586-1418, e-mail. Meets the second Wednesday of every month at Clover Island Inn on Clover Island in Kennewick, WA at 12 noon.

OREGON - Portland, Oregon - P.O. Box 301115, Portland, OR 97294-9115. Contact: Ruthann Heineken (503) 848-7031 e-mail, or Agner Henningsen (503) 639-4639. Meets monthly on the 3rd Monday at 12 Noon at Old Country Buffet, 13500 SW Pacific, Highway 99 W. Tigard. Luncheon meeting.

OREGON SOUTHERN - North Bend, Oregon - 2657 Grey Fox Dr. Sutherlin Or 97479. Contact: Shirley Cauble (541) 459-7982. e-mail - Meets Second Saturday of each month at Red Lion Hotel, 1313 N. Bayshore Dr. Coos Bay Or. 97420. Call for information.

PUGET SOUND - Seattle, Washington - 2330 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121-1617. Contact: James Colamarino e-mail, (425) 746-6984 or Laurel Martinsen (206) 525-3389. Meets monthly on the LAST Monday at 11:00 AM at the Catholic Seamen's Meetin Information Club, 2330 First Avenue, Seattle, WA.

ROGUE VALLEY - Grants Pass, Oregon - Gene W. Jernigan, P.O.Box 66 Selma, Oregon 97538-0066, telephone (541) 597-4776 . Contact: Gene Jernigan e-mail. Meets monthly on the 3rd Monday at 12 Noon at Laurel Hill Golf Course, 19450 Old Stage Road, Gold Hill. Officers: Gene W. Jernigan, President; William Bennett, Vice President; Carl Alleman, Secretary, Fred Kuttig, Treasurer.

SAN JUAN - Bellingham, Washington - 1225 Sunset Drive, Suite 357, Bellingham, WA 98226-3529. Contact: John Burley (360) 733-1409 or Robert Hines (360) 332-1421. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 11:30 AM at the American Legion Hall, 1688 W. Bakerview, Bellingham. Luncheon meeting.

SOUTHEAST REGION, Regional Vice President, Joe Colon (954) 370-8161

GULFSTREAM - Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 1221 South Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Contact: Joe Colon (954) 370-8161 or Mac MacDonald (561)368-6277. Meets monthly on the 3rd Saturday at 1:00 PM at the S.I.U. Hall 1221 South Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale.

OCALA - Ocala, Florida - P.O. Box 5482, Ocala, FL 34478-5482. Contact: Byron Kearbey (352) 489-5842, e-mail, or John Daignault (352) 622-5085. Meets monthly on the 4th Sunday at 1:00 PM. Call for information.

RUDY KOZAK - Umatilla, FL - 26002 Zinnia Lane, Astatula, FL 34705-9467, Contact: Carl Frey (352) 669-3404, Meets monthly on the 2nd Wednesday at 11:15 AM at the American Legion Bldg., 2874 S. Sanford, Umatilla, FL

SARASOTA-MANATEE - Sarasota, Florida - 800 25th Ave. Palmetto, FL 34221. Contact: Henry Van Gemert (941) 722-1194 or Jim Waters (941) 729-1346. Meets monthly on the LAST Wednesday at 12 Noon at the Shrine Temple, 600 North Beneva Road, Sarasota. Luncheon meeting.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - Cape Coral, Florida - P.O. Box 101027, Cape Coral, FL 33910-1027 Contact: Joe Hebert (941) 458-1404; e-mail. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 12 Noon at Powell's Restaurant, 1306 Cape Coral Parkway, Cape Coral. Luncheon at 12 Noon and Meeting at 1 PM.

SUNCOAST - Port Charlotte, Florida - Contact: 119 Coconut St. Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980. Phone: (941) 235-2526. Meets monthly on the 3rd Monday at 12 Noon at the Olde World Restaurant, 14415 South Tamiami Trail, North Port. Luncheon meeting. Call for information.

ST. JOHNS RIVER - Jacksonville, Florida - P.O. Box 6625, Jacksonville, FL 32236-6625. Contact: John Lockhart (904) 384-7371 or Henry Billitz (904) 797-5506. Meets monthly on the 2nd Saturday at 2:00 PM, MEBA Union Hall & Auditorium, Interstate N Office Center Bldg, 435 Clark Road, Jacksonville.

TREASURE COAST - Sebastian, FL 3 Ventura Lane, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952. Contact: Marge Brady (561) 879-7220 or George VerCruysse (561) 461-3889. Meets monthly on the 1st Wednesday at 1:00 PM at the Community Center, 2266 14th Avenue, Vero Beach.

SOUTHWEST REGION, Regional Vice President, Rex Farley (602) 971-2573

CACTUS MARINERS - Tucson, Arizona - P.O. Box 43691, Tucson, AZ 85733-3691. Contact: Maurice (Mac) McCarty, 520-297-9814; Don Drensky, 520-579-1145. Meets monthly (except June through August) on the 1st Monday at 11:00 AM at the Home Town Buffet, 5101 North Oracle Road (Oracle and River Road), Tucson.

CHINA COASTERS - Wilmington, California - 440 North Avalon Blvd., Wilmington, CA 90744-5804. Contact: Clint McClish (562) 866-3857 or AMMV (310) 834-2488. Meets monthly on the 3rd Saturday at 1:00 PM at the AMMV Building, 440 North Avalon Blvd., Wilmington.

DESERT MARINERS - Phoenix, Arizona - 17021 N. 45th Str. Phoenix, AZ 85032. Contact: Thomas Sofranko (480) 802-9241 or Charles Hyer (928) 474-3333, Fax (928) 474-0040. Meets monthly (except June, July and August) on the 3rd Saturday at 10:30 AM at the American Legion, 7145 East 2nd Street, Scottsdale. Luncheon served after the meeting.

ROADRUNNERS - Albuquerque, New Mexico - c/o VA Medical Center T59, Room 14, Albuquerque, NM 87108. Contact: Hyman Pitkofsky (505) 994-2776 or John Donnellon (505) 275-6750, e-mail. Meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday at 1:30 PM at Shoney's Restaurant, Louisiana and Manaul NE, Albuquerque for Luncheon Meeting. Board of Directors Meeting at same Restaurant 1st Tuesday of every month at 9 AM.

SAN DIEGO SILVERGATE - San Diego, California - P.O. Box 152444, San Diego, CA 92195-2444. Contact: Don Prior (619) 463-0500; Fax: (619) 466-5400; e-mail. Meets monthly on the 1st Saturday at 10:00 AM at Porter Hall, University Blvd. & LaMesa Blvd., LaMesa.

VALLEY FORGE REGION, Regional Vice President, Leo Bebout 412-831-7145

DELAWARE VALLEY - Matamoras, Pennsylvania - P.O. Box 281, Matamoras, PA 18336. Contact: Ed Bamberger - (845) 292-6208 or Ed Almquist (570) 296-8774. Meets monthly on the 4th Thursday at 12 Noon at Best Western, Rt. 61209, Matamoras, PA. All vets and Navy Armed Guard welcome. Luncheon meeting.

HIGH SEAS MARINERS - Willow Grove, Pennsylvania - 130 Lawnton Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090-2310. Contact: John J. Corbett - (215) 659-9297. Meets monthly on the LAST Wednesday at 1:30 PM at the American Legion Post 308, 2305 Computer Road, Willow Grove. Lunch optional.

KEYSTONE MARINERS - Altoona, Pennsylvania Contact: George Bathie e-mail, or John Osmolinski (814) 942-0333. Meets monthly on the 4th Saturday at 12 Noon at the Days Inn, 3306 Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona. Luncheon meeting.

MARINERS OF PENNSYLVANIA - New Castle, Pennsylvania - 1007 Kings Chapel Road, New Castle, PA 16105. Contact: Walter W. Luikart (412) 654-4271 e-mail, or Fran Dunlap (412) 652-9083. Chapter meets monthly on the 2nd Saturday at 11:30 AM at "Eat and Park", 100 Washington Street, New Castle. Luncheon meeting.

MON VALLEY - West Mifflin, Pennsylvania - 134 Skyport Drive, West Mifflin, PA 15122. Contact: Robert Downey (412) 466-0250 or John Brucker (724) 941-8314. Meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday at 12:30 PM at the Hoss's Steak and Sea House.

SOUTHWESTERN PA - Washington, Pennsylvania - 41828 George Circle, North Huntington, PA. 15642-4408. Contact: CEO Bill Fullgraf, 234 McConnell Rd. Canonsburg PA. 15317. Secretary Edsel S. Bryner, e-mail. Meets monthly on the 4th Tuesday at 12:30 PM at Ponderosa Restaurant, Belle Vernon, PA.

SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY MARINERS - Manheim, PA - 238 W. Colebrook St. Manheim, PA. 17545 . Contact: Clarence W. Newcomer, 238 W. Colebrook St. Manheim, Pa. 17545 (717) 665-3085 . Meet 2nd Wed. of every Month, at Hoss's Restaurant, Rt. 501 & Airport Road, Lititz, Pa. Lunch 12 Noon; Meeting 1 PM.

THREE RIVERS - McMurray, Pennsylvania - P.O. Box 1095, McMurray, PA 15317. Contact: Leo Bebout (412) 831-7145 or Paul Koontz (724) 834-7297. Meets monthly on the LAST Thursday at 1:00 PM (officers and board meeting at 10:30 AM) at Old Country Buffet, Great Southern Center, Bridgeville, PA.

WESTMORELAND - Jeannette, Pennsylvania - 714 Lewis Avenue, Jeannette, PA 15644-2715. Contact: Raymond Basick (724) 523-3766, e-mail or Paul Koontz (724) 834-7297. Meets monthly on the 1st Thursday at 12 Noon at the McKenna Senior Community Center, 971 Old Salem Road, Greensburg.
WEST REGION, Regional Vice President, J. O. Nelson 916-773-2144

BEEHIVE MARINER - West Jordan, Utah - Henry B. Kvist, 6457 Carl Drive, West Jordan, UT 84084, (801) 966-3104 or Harry Erskine, Jr. (801) 561-3953, e-mail. Meets bi-monthly on the LAST Wednesday at 1 PM. Call Henry to find out the meeting place.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA - Fresno, California - P.O. Box 8665, Fresno, CA 93747-8665. Contact: Rufus Hernandez (559) 456-4801 or Russ Adams (559) 255-5612. Meets monthly on the 2nd Tuesday at 1:00 PM (Reg) at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1235 'O' Street, Fresno.

EAST BAY MARINERS - San Leandro, California - P.O. Box 3110, San Leandro, CA 94578-0110. Contact: Frank Medeiros (510) 656-9311, e-mail. Meets for luncheon meeting. Call or visit our website for details.

GOLDEN GATE - San Francisco, California - 401 Van Ness Avenue, Room 128, San Francisco, CA 94102-4587. Contact: Mickey Anderson (650) 588-1756. Meets monthly on the 4th Saturday at 12 Noon at the War Memorial Veterans Building, Room 128, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. Luncheon meeting.

HI SEA ERA - Reno-Sparks, Nevada - 3355 Pierremont Rd Reno NV 89503. Contact: Edward Gardner (775) 747-2399. Meets 3rd Tuesday of each month at noon, at Denny's Restaurant in Sparks for a lunch meeting.

HIGH ROLLERS - Las Vegas, Nevada - 3838 Euclid St., Las Vegas, NV 89121. Contact: Bill Galvez (702) 732-1369, e-mail . Meets monthly on the 3rd Friday at 11:00 AM at the Lowden Veteran's Center, 3333 Cambridge, Las Vegas.

HUMBOLDT BAY - Eureka, California - 5510 Walnut Dr., Eureka, CA 95503. Contact: Frank Grant - (707) 443-1585 or Ralph Moon - (707) 442-8302. Meets monthly on the 1st Tuesday at 11:30 AM at Tea Garden Cafe. Call for information. Luncheon Meeting.

JEREMIAH O'BRIEN - San Rafael, California - P.O. Box 150474, San Rafael, CA 94915-0474. Contact: Bill Cantua (415) 499-1866 e-mail, or Joe Lamb (415) 927-1950. Meets monthly on the 2nd Saturday at 11:30AM at Arrivederci's, 2nd and "G" Streets, San Rafael. Luncheon meeting.

NORTH BAY MARINERS - Santa Rosa, California - P.O. Box 1705, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. Contact: Steve Hall (707) 575-1660. Meets monthly on the 1st Wednesday at 12 Noon. Call for location. Luncheon meeting.

PORT OF STOCKTON - Stockton, California - 1016 Cameron Way, Stockton, CA 95207. Contact: Frank Espinola (209) 838-3753. Meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday at 11:30 AM at U.J.'s Restaurant, 7628 North Pacific Avenue (Hammer Ranch Shopping Center, at Hammer Lane), Stockton.

SACRAMENTO VALLEY - Sacramento, California - 14233 Tim Burr Lane, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Contact: Kenneth Blue 9530) 477-1908, or Robert Ulrich (530) 758 6570. Meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday at 11AM at American Legion Post 447, 720 Santiago Ave, Sacramento. Luncheon meeting.

SILICON VALLEY MARINERS - Campbell, California - 3525 South Bascom, L-4, Campbell, CA 95008. Contact: Al Hadad (408) 257-6875, e-mail, or John Marshall (408) 559-7163 e-mail. Meets monthly on the 4th Friday at 12 Noon at Carrows Restaurant, 3180 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. Luncheon meeting. (Silicon Valley formerly Central Coast Mariners)

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Merchant Marine Websites:

To add links to merchant marine websites, contact lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org.


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Crossing the Bar

To add notice of the post-war death of a Korean War merchant mariner on the KWE, contact and provide details to lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org.  They will be listed below in alphabetical order.

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Brief History: Pre- and Post-Korean War

  • World War II
  • Vietnam
  • Gulf War
  • Other

World War II

American War Veterans Given Ultimate Insult...Must Purchase Their War Medals
by Ian A. Millar, 1992

There are some things in life upon which you may place your money and never lose a bet.  One is that you are going to pay taxes; two is that you will one day die; and three is that if there is any way possible for our nation to kick the veterans of our World War II merchant marine in the teeth, it will be done.  The beat goes on as we find a kinder, gentler America has found the merchant marine veterans of World War II and handed them what might be the greatest symbolic insult to have been given to any veterans group yet.

In 1988 when the American merchant seamen were granted a very second class form of veterans status, Congress charged the Maritime Administration with the task of having medals designed and awarding them to go with the ribbon bars which had been previously awarded for war service.  That was in 1988, and now some four years later, the medals are ready for distribution.  However, there is a fly in the ointment, and that is the fact that if these men and women want the medals, they must purchase them!  That's right--purchase, and the going rate is about $20.00 each.

As an aside, back in 1988, when these men and women were granted veterans status, they were denied the same medals as awarded to other veterans.  This act of petty meanness was glossed over with a statement that the government would not award the military medals to the veterans of the merchant marine because they were already awarded the medals of the Maritime Administration.  It should be clearly noted that the medals the merchant seamen were awarded were "civilian" awards and not "military."  So factually speaking, the military war veterans have never received any military award which is due them.  It should also be clearly understood that the government most certainly broke its own rules regarding duplicate awards for similar service.  In the case of members of the Merchant Marine Cadet Corps at Kings Point who were in the Naval Reserve and graduated from the academy, both the awards of the Maritime Administration and the U.S. Navy were awarded and to this day are worn on the uniform.

I am very sure that many of you reading this will be concerned about the government and their wanton spending of our tax dollars on such things as war medals.  I can most certainly appreciate this, but for a brief moment consider the recent diversion by the Bush Administration to the Middle East!  They have awarded thousands of medals for "Desert Storm" and not a veteran paid a dime for their medal.  Perhaps we are to believe we can balance the budget by charging the merchant seamen for their medals?  I think the answer lies closer to the heart--that is, the cold heart of our government officials, and that is that they simply could not pass up an opportunity to kick these veterans in the teeth one more time.

In my den I have a frame of the medals of my late father.  There is the merchant marine victory medal which was sent to him just after the war, and it was free of any charge.  There are other merchant marine awards and there are three medals from England which were awarded to him at no cost.  England figured that being torpedoed and suffering from exposure was more than enough payment for a campaign medal.  Were my father still living, he would perhaps find this latest snub laughable, were it not so sad to be insulted in this manner.

Over the past year I have been able to assist two war veterans to obtain medals from Norway almost 50 years later.  They were aboard a Liberty ship, the S/S Henry Bacon, which was attacked by German aircraft on the way back from Murmansk.  They had aboard a number of Norwegian refugees and there was only room in the lifeboat for so many.  In the tradition of the sea, many of the crew of this ship, including the Master and Chief Engineer, remained aboard the ship knowing full well they were soon to perish in the cold Arctic Ocean.  Norway was grateful for the sacrifice of these brave men, and the entire crew was awarded the Norwegian War Medal for their service.  There was no charge for the medals, and obviously Norway did not hesitate to recognize those war veterans.

For many years I had the privilege of assisting our merchant seamen and members of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard to obtain a medal from the former Soviet Union.  The medal for the 50th Anniversary of the Great Patriotic War was awarded to about five hundred veterans of the merchant marine and Naval Armed Guard for their courage and heroism aboard ships in the various convoys to the Soviet Union during the war.  It took some time, but the day did come when we gathered at the Soviet Embassy and the first group of men were decorated.  There was no charge for the decoration, just a hearty handshake and heartfelt thanks.  It appears that the Soviet Union thought that these men had already more than paid for their medal in service.  I gather that no one in our government gave that much thought.

And there is certainly a greater pain and sorrow that is caused with this long-standing, petty meanness directed to our veterans of the merchant marine.  Just to mention one example, I have a friend whose husband was killed in action when his ship the S/S Stephen Hopkins went into battle against the German Raider "Stier."  The guns of the "Hopkins" roared out in defense of the man of war, demanding they strike their colors.  In the end both ships went to the bottom, and Rudy Rutz, along with many of his shipmates, gave all they had for their country.  I cannot comprehend the callousness of those who would charge this widow for the awards her husband so dearly paid for 50 years ago.  And too, there are many former merchant seamen who cannot afford the cost of these symbols of courage in their waning years.  They thought they had paid the price long ago in exploding ammunition ships and burning tankers.

Over 6,000 war veterans of the merchant marine gave their lives for their freedom and ours during World War II, and now we find that not a one of those lives was worth a $20.00 medal.  None of those brave men who died in the mustard gas at Bari, none of those who were beaten from pillar to post in the Death Camps of the far East, and none of those who survived all the enemy could throw at them are worth a $20.00 medal.  How pathetically sad that for those who suffered a greater percentage of combat casualties than the Army or the Navy, America holds such contempt and insult.

Merchant Marine of World War II by Ian Millar

It is not possible to record a synopsis of the US Maritime Service and its members in one or two pages.  The excuse of not verifying information for the enemy was used to cover up and withhold the disasters and the greatest maritime massacre of all time.  The American public was never informed that war-time rationing of items such as fuel oil and sugar was not due to the needs of the military, but due to losing the battle at sea to the submarines of the enemy.

The years of 1940 and 1941 were not used by the nation, and especially the US Navy, to prepare for what was to come.  The lessons learned by Britain during 1917 when the German submarines almost strangled the island nation with shipping losses were ignored.  The US Navy, especially when Admiral King was promoted to the top position, proclaimed the Pacific was the US's territory and the British would have responsibility for the Atlantic.  Admiral King also had nothing but hatred and contempt for both the British and also for our own Air Corps top General, Hap Arnold.

Prior to 1941, the men sailing the United States Maritime fleet were, for the most part, no different than those that joined the Army during the depression years.  They were looking for a job.  One big difference, however, was the fact these men had to join a union; a union presided over by two men, Joseph Curran on the east coast, and Harry Lundeberg on the west coast.  Both men had spent their years in the 1920s as ship's crew at the going wages of $16.00 per month for a 7 day week, 10 to 12 hours per day, eating stew from meat long gone bad or condemned meat and flour purchased by a dishonest steward's department, and issued one sheet for their bunk for an entire voyage.  The unions had improved conditions but not without strikes and bitterness between the ship owners and the unions.  The union leaders were not enthused about the formation of the United States Maritime Commission for seaman training or the prospect of the Navy assuming the control of the merchant ships

The program known as Lend-Lease as developed between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill and the start of the greatest ship building program ever envisioned ensured that the union's position would be partially lost when war came.  Mostly to protect their positions, the unions set out to weed out members who were the most serious drunks and troublemakers.  They had their own training schools for replacements, but time would prove these to be totally inadequate as to demand.

The greatest factor of all would be set in motion long before the American public even thought of war.  Hitler gave explicit orders in September, 1939 not to do anything that would get America into the war, even when Roosevelt traded England 50 destroyers for West Indies bases to keep the Atlantic life-line open.  In May, 1951, a German surface raider sank an Egyptian liner that had 150 Americans aboard.  A U-boat in the same area sank the American SS Robin Moor, bound for South Africa, within two weeks.  In September, the USS Reuben Jones was torpedoed and sank.  We were at war in everything but the name.

The day of Pearl Harbor came and war was declared.  The German High Command knew that the entry into the conflict of the industrial might of the U.S. was going to be a problem.  They also knew England needed a minimum of 800 ships a month to unload supplies just to survive.  The Germans were able to muster just 5 submarines to attack American shipping in the sea lanes off the east coast of the United States.  The subs arrived January 11, 1942.

The Atlantic sea coast was a submarine's paradise!  East coast cities were not blacked out and radio stations doing business as usual.  The Germans would come within 2 miles of Coney Island to enjoy the sight of city traffic.  Coastal lighting was used to silhouette the outline of ships during night time attacks.  519 ships were sent to the bottom by the middle of July with the loss of over 800 lives.  Increasing numbers of subs were sent to this private hunting ground and by the time this condition was brought under control by the middle of 1943, the entire Caribbean, including into the mouth of the Mississippi, was infested by German submarines.

The delivery of war goods to Russia was a political compromise between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt.  Delivering goods through Iran was one route used by it took too long for the material to be delivered where it was most needed. The delivery through the northern Artic ports of Archangle and Murmansk, past the German air bases in northern Norway, plus the sub areas between Iceland and England, made this route one of the most hazardous of all.  It was agreed between Roosevelt and Churchill that 50% losses en route would be tolerated.  The first 11 convoys in 1941 and early 1942 were made almost without loss; only 3 ships out of 101.  Hitler became alarmed over the goods getting to Russia and the Murmansk route became a high priority, even to committing battleships and cruisers.  Losses from the spring of 1942 until the middle of 1943 at times exceeded the 50% figure.  Convoy PK-17, during the summer of 1942, lost 23 ships and crews from a total convoy of 34 cargo vessels when the British cruiser and destroyer escort turned back in the face of one of Germany's newest battleships and the cargo vessels were told to scatter and proceed independently.  They then became sitting ducks for subs and German aircraft out of Norway.  This route was especially hard for crews due to the area; five minutes was about the maximum life span in the cold water and even those getting to life boats would suffer frostbite and amputation if they were even picked up.

The Mediterranean was also a hot spot in the early years, especially German subs and bombers.  The Italian fleet also scored limited success, but the German dive bombers were the most deadly.  Ports in Crete and during the invasion of North Africa took their toll.  The port of Bari, on the east coast of Italy, shrouded a mystery not revealed for more than 20 years.  A number of ships were unloading army supplies when the port was attacked by dive bombers.  An ammo ship was hit and the explosion set off a chain reaction that blew up about 8 more ammo ships.  The mystery was when American personnel came back into the harbor area, even all the civilians ashore were also dead.  One doctor investigated this occurrence for almost 25 years until he found the answer in British files--one of the ships carried poison gas.

The Pacific and Indian Oceans were the territory of the Japanese submarines.  Their toll was nothing like the Germans extracted.  The problem in the Pacific during and after the Philippine invasion was the Kamikaze force.  There was never a documented case of the navy armed guard ever sinking a submarine, but they were extremely effective with anti-aircraft fire.  The submarine menace continued throughout the war with the last American ship sunk off Boston Harbor just a few hours before Germany accepted the terms of surrender.  The German air attacks gradually lessened as Allied aircraft took control of the skies in the spring of 1945.  The condition of air attacks on shipping increased steadily as the Japanese were driven closer to their homeland and the Americans extended their supply lines.  The start of a serious campaign of trading a plane and pilot for a ship really began October 17, 1944, when the Japanese, without benefit of carriers or really experienced pilots, planned their 3-prong attack on the beaches of Leyte, Philippines.  We now know the Japanese only had about 20 operational aircraft to initiate this program but by October 23rd, more than 800 planes were expended with great success.  The program was in high gear by the time of the Okinawa invasion.

Historically, the American merchant marine entered the public eye only in times of war.  In 1775 when the colonies went to war with England, there was not one fighting ship.  Merchant marine captains obtained "letters of marque" from Congress authorizing them to harass the enemy.  The U.S. Navy was also authorized in 1775 with a $100,000 budget.  The privateers had captured 733 ships by 1778, but their losses were 900 and thousands of seamen lost.  World War II is the only example within our nation's history when the merchant fleet was placed under naval discipline which prohibited--come what may--a master and his crew from surrendering their vessel to the enemy (Navy Department, Washington, 30 March, 1942, OP 23L-JM(SC)S76, Serial 097923). On December 25, 1942, Admiral King, CNO, advised all naval units that henceforth naval discipline and control was to be exercised against U.S. merchant crews while in all theaters of war (FF-1/A14-1, Serial 6077, 25 December 1942).  The order of 30 March 1942 was further strengthened by U.S. Navy operational instructions for Naval Armed Guard personnel also prohibiting surrender to the enemy.  US Navy instructions to all merchant ship captains also ordered that assistant gunners and ammunition handlers from the merchant crews were to supplement the assigned naval armed guards.  These 1942 gunnery assignments were reinforced by a 1943 War Shipping Administration regulation issued to all captains which was identical to the Navy's instructions (WSA Operation Regulation #35, issued 25 January 1943).

The merchant marine lost 866 ships and 6714 men during the 1940-1945 period, making their casualty rate second only to the Marine Corps.  The actual casualty rates are as follows, and also include the personnel working the Great Lakes shipping lanes during the referenced period:

US Casualty Rates of World War II:

  • US Marine Corps = 2.9%
  • US merchant marine = 2.8%
  • US Army (+Air Corps) = 2.0%
  • US Navy = 1.5%
  • US Coast Guard = 0.79%

The personnel of the merchant marine were obtained from the boot camps and training schools set up by the War Shipping Administration in 1942.  The need for personnel was so great due to the attrition that recruitment offices were staffed in all states and training stations opened at Sheepshead Bay and Hoffman Island in New York, St. Petersburg, Florida, Pass Christian, Mississippi, and Catalina Island, California.  The men were issued uniforms in 1942 that resembled those of the Navy.  They were blue with different insignia, had pockets in the pants, and were not bell-bottomed.  Campaign ribbons and medals were issued first in 1943. Until January, 1943, each individual sworn in after enlisting was also sworn into the Naval Reserve.  It was decided the enlistees were already under Naval control outside of the U.S. territorial waters and this step was canceled.  These training stations turned out more than 250,000 new sailors.  Elmer Davis, Director of Office of War Information, announced in early 1943 that the merchant marine had suffered a casualty toll of nearly 4% compared to less than 1% for the Armed Forces.

The men trained by the WSA came from all corners of the country and did not differ from any of the Armed Forces boot camps.  The biggest difference was the attention given to those with big mouths declaring they did not have to comply with Navy regulations while ashore, celebrating in the bars prior to ever going to sea, and, of course, of how much money they were going to make.  The pay feature was to haunt the sailors of the merchant fleet for all their days.  It was true that the base rate could increase from 33% to 100% for the days in certain war zones.  It was proven in testimony prior to being granted veteran's status in January, 1988, that this pay differential was not a fact.

It was proven, by taking the two mainstays of each service, the Chief Petty officer of the Navy and the Boatswain of the deck crew of a merchant ship, that the merchant sailor did not even come close.  The CPO in wartime made $151.00 per month, $37.50 for hazardous duty, plus $96.00 as dependent's allowance, for a total of $284.50 per month.  This does not count the benefits for his family of possible use of Post Exchange facilities, and no union dues or retirement benefits.  The Boatswains Mate made $110.00 per month, averaged $60.00 in overtime, 100% bonus for a month in a war zone for another $110.00, made a total of $280.00 per month.  From this he must deduct income taxes (almost 25%), union dues, clothing and family's living expenses.  The boatswain was paid only while he was signed on a ship.  His pay stopped if his ship was sunk or he was taken prisoner.  He was not paid for any time taken off between ships and his health expenses were on him unless he happened to be in the vicinity of a Marine hospital.  This is the kind of pay that men signed on ships for the Murmansk run, the North Africa, Italian and D-Day invasions in Europe and the Philippines, Iwo, Saipan and Okinawa invasions in the Pacific.  There are many individuals that made one trip in the Maritime Service and immediately joined the Army and even the Marines.

There is no one making a claim on doing anything but getting a job accomplished during a time of need for the national good.  Everyone had their own reasons for joining the Maritime Service--after all, we were told we were a part of a Naval Reserve program.  This proved untrue after January 1, 1943, but the recruiting offices were evidently not made aware of this change.  We know from our net income tax returns of the war years the stories of big pay were not true.  We did not participate in the veterans benefits of education, home purchases, or accumulated pay while in prisoner-of-war camps.  We ask that you do not blame us too much for not being extremely overjoyed at the prospect of receiving a flag for our coffin.

Information Sources:

  • Sea War by Felix Risengerg, Jr.
  • The Tenth Fleet by Ladislas Farago (WWII Office Naval Intelligence)
  • Destruction Convoy PK-17 by David Irving
  • 1986 World Almanac & Book of Facts
  • Merchantman Or Ship of War? by Charles D. Gibson

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  • Merchant Marine Act of 1936
  • Title 14 - US Coast Guard
  • Public Law 95-202 Women Air Force Pilots veterans Status of 1977
  • Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 1988
  • Merchant Marine Fairness Act of 1997
  • HR-4110


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Marines, Merchants and Lower Case Letters: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

authored by Francis Thronson

[KWE Note: The following article was written for The Anchor Light, the publication of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.  In it, Thronson talks about the fact that when merchant mariners are referred to as "marines," it contributes to the confusion about who and what they are. Thronson says, "When people read "Merchant Marine" they think it's like the U.S. Army or Navy and expect it to be something it's not. I think a lot of merchant mariners think it should be capitalized because it/they "are important." But that's just not how the rules of capitalization work in correct usage."]

Thronson's essay is reprinted below:

"An article in the December 17, 2005 issue of the American Merchant Marine Veterans China Coasters Chapter newsletter asks whether the merchant marine is "out of sight, out of mind? Is that the plight of the U.S. merchant marine veterans of WWII?" Their answer is an emphatic "Yes" and they go on to theorize about just why that is.

Excerpts from the article:

"Because there was no "Victory at Sea" TV series showing our dedication to duty and sacrifices. There were no photographers recording our losses. There were no embedded writers writing the stories of our efforts. In a word, we were out of sight and out of mind."

I have pondered this question myself for a number of years. Certainly, a TV series would be a big help, but the answer I have come up with is that the problem lies with the fact that, while "Merchant Marine" is almost always erroneously capitalized, it's actually not a proper noun and should not be capitalized.

Why does not being a proper noun lead to being overlooked? Because there is no there there. No one can write a letter to merchant marine headquarters. There is no administrator, admiral or CEO in charge. There is no phone number or address for the United States merchant marine. That's like looking for the address of the United States airline industry.

From the dictionary - "merchant marine: 1. The commercial shipping industry of a given nation. 2. Those involved in that industry." It's an unusual phrase. It describes not only a "thing," but also people. There may be one, but I can't think of any other phrase that describes both people and things. It's confusing.

The merchant marine is an amalgam of privately owned merchant shipping companies. It does not have a public relations department, a press secretary, a dedicated corps of bureaucrats whose sole mission is to further the cause of the entity for whom they work.  The United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps are all proper nouns. You can write to them. With a little work, you can find the guy in charge.

Throughout World War II, dedicated members of their staff did nothing but tell the world about what they were doing -- with good reason, and with great success.  Their public relations and press departments succeeded in recruiting new members, engendering public support, lobbying politicians and in general, making sure that who they were and what they accomplished was kept very much in sight and in mind.

Because there was no single entity that constituted the merchant marine, no bureaucracy whose sole mission was to keep itself alive, the men who sailed the ships that "delivered the goods" simply never reached a "critical mass" in the public's mind, and hence were not then, and are not now, recognized.

It does not help matters any that so very, very often, even by those who you would think know better, merchant mariners are referred to as merchant "marines." Well this just furthers the confusion in the public mind. Everywhere, even in press releases from the congressmen and senators who are sponsoring HR23 and S1272 (and God bless them!), and in newspaper articles about the bills, merchant seamen, sailors and mariners are referred to as "marines." Can you blame the public for being confused?  Then add the word "merchant" to the equation. A "merchant" is someone who buys and sells commodities for profit. It's the local grocery store, pawn shop or WalMart. What's "merchant" got to do with the ocean?

But basically, I'm sticking with my original thesis. "Merchant marine" is not a proper noun. There is no there there supporting, publicizing and praising it. Nobody can call or write to the United States merchant marine. It is not a single, discrete entity with a chain of command, and that's why no one knows who/what it is or what its sailors accomplished during the "good war."  You can call the Maritime Administration – they do some oversight, but that's like saying you're going to call the Federal Aviation Administration because you want to get in touch with the airline industry.

And in closing, I'd just like to add this one thing. (Do remain assured that I am 100% on the side of the disregarded and disrespected United States merchant marine veterans of World War II, and I would dearly love to see you all get your due, and have HR23 and S1272 pass and even be retroactive.)  But I just have to say, in my experience with hundreds of WWII merchant marine vets, I just don't think more than a handful of you would have ever wanted anything to do with the official, U.S. military machine. A friend once said that my father was "in the military." I was startled and said "My father wasn't in the military; he was in the merchant marine!" There's a world of difference.

How many of you really wanted to be members of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard? How many of you really wanted to jump ship for the Army?  In my experience, merchant sailors just aren't "proper noun" kind of guys. And that's why I like 'em.  Even after all these years of life without recognition and the GI Bill, would you trade your time in the "lower case" merchant marine?  There was a price to pay for not being "proper noun" kinda guys. But there was an awful lot of freedom and individuality too."

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Reading Room

Suggested books to learn more about the merchant marine:

  • "Fox Uncle Charley" by Bill Perdue, P.O. Box 3311, Lake Wales, FL 33859-3311.  [Note: The addendum of this book includes the names of 542 U.S. merchant ships lost during World War II.]  Published by Professional Press, Chapel Hill, NC.


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