Rep. Susan Brooks Works To Honor WWII Merchant Marines
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Merchant Marines were a vital part of the Allied forces that won World War II, yet they never got the recognition they deserved, said Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) She’s working to fix that by helping to get a bill passed in Congress, to award them the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that can be awarded to civilians.
“In Indianapolis, I met with a group of family members of Merchant Marines, some who served, actually, in World War II,” said Brooks, speaking on the floor of the U.S. House, before the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, was passed.
“It was because of that meeting that I learned so much about their service and decided to take up the mantle and try to work to get the recognition that they deserved.”
During wartime, Merchant Mariners serve as an auxiliary to the Navy and are responsible for the transoceanic transport of military and civilian personnel as well as combat equipment, fuel, food, commodities and raw materials.
Risking their lives to provide the needed supplies for battle, Merchant Mariners had an estimated 9,300 casualties and bore a higher per-capita casualty rate than any other branch of the military. In total, hundreds of Mariner ships and thousands of men were lost to enemy combatants during the course of the war.
“They were not recognized as veterans until 1988 and they never received the benefits other World War II veterans received under the GI Bill,” said Brooks.