Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Garamendi Merchant Mariner bill passes in House, Senate

Mar 5, 2020
In The News

A resolution by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to award a Congressional Medal of Honor to American Merchant Mariners who provided supplies to the armed forces during World War II has passed in both chambers of Congress. It now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature.

During World War II, Merchant Marines had the job of transporting supplies to Allied Forces. According to American Merchant Marine at War, approximately 1 in 26 Merchant Marines died during the war, potentially the highest per capita ratio of casualties of any branches of service during that time.

“Throughout the Second World War, our armed forces relied on the Merchant Marine to ferry supplies, cargo and personnel into both theaters of operation, and they paid a heavy price in service to their country,” Garamendi said in a statement. “ An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives, and another 12,000 were wounded, to make sure our servicemembers could keep fighting. Yet, these Mariners who put their lives on the line were not even given veteran status until 1988.”

The legislation — co-sponsored by Reps. Susan Brooks, R-Indiana; and Don Young, R-Alaska — seeks to provide Merchant Mariners with a Congressional Medal of Honor, one of the highest honors for military veterans in the United States.

“I had the opportunity to meet with three World War II Merchant Mariners in my office,” Garamendi said. “These mariners put their lives on the line for this country, braving German and Japanese submarines in their Liberty Ships as they delivered critical supplies to our servicemembers in the European and Pacific theaters. Unfortunately, their sacrifice is commonly overlooked. A Congressional Gold Medal would give them the recognition they deserve, and I’m pleased that this bill is poised to be signed into law to give these veterans and their families the honor and respect they are owed.”

A companion bill by Sen. Lisa Murkowsi, R-Alaska, was simultaneously introduced in the Senate, where it also passed.