Brooks, Hahn Bill to Honor WWII Merchant Marines Passes House
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2992, the Merchant Marine of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2016, a bill introduced by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA). This legislation will present the highest civilian award Congress can bestow to the Merchant Mariners who acted heroically to transport troops and provide critical supplies of war to U.S. troops by sea during World War II.
"Today, there are less than 5,000 surviving Merchant Mariners, and with nearly 500 World War II veterans dying each day, it is critical that we act this year to recognize and honor the sacrifices and contributions of this group of loyal and courageous men," said Brooks. "The Merchant Marine was the linchpin connecting the fighting forces overseas with the production forces here at home. In the face of certain peril, these brave men provided efficient and reliable transport of combat equipment, fuel, food, commodities, personnel, and raw materials that were pivotal to the Allied victory. Today, I'm proud that the House has taken action to honor their service, and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will act swiftly to ensure that these men get the recognition they deserve before the end of the year."
With an estimated 9,300 total casualties, the Merchant Marine bore a higher per-capita casualty rate than any other branch of the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. An additional 11,000 mariners were wounded in action and 663 men and women were taken prisoner.
"Often, the sacrifices and service of these brave men are forgotten," Brooks continued. "Merchant Mariners took part in every invasion from Normandy to Okinawa, risking their lives to provide the needed supplies for war and facing danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders and destroyers, aircraft, 'Kamikaze,' and Mother Nature herself. Despite these efforts, Merchant Mariners were not recognized as veterans until 1988 and never received the benefits that other World War II veterans received under the G.I. Bill."
H.R. 2992 has 312 bipartisan co-sponsors. Companion legislation, S. 2989, the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2016, has been introduced in the Senate and is waiting for consideration.