Veterans Gather to Muster Support for Bill Honoring World War II Merchant Mariners
By JAMES PETERSON, Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON — World War II veterans from around the country gathered on May 18 for a lunch brief to support a bill aimed at giving veterans’ recognition for U.S. Merchant Mariners who sailed during the war.
“The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners of Act of 2017,” or H.R. 154, would grant a single payment of $25,000 to documented members of the Merchant Marine who served “as a crew member of a vessel that was operated in U.S. waters by the War Shipping Administration or the Office of Defense Transportation” from Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946. These war-time heroes were not given veteran status after the war.
William Geroux, author of “The Mathews Men,” which chronicles the World War II exploits of Merchant Mariners from Chesapeake County, Va., was the keynote speaker at the event. He retold stories of Merchant Mariners surviving against German U-boats, shipwrecks and a harsh sea. He said he hopes the bill will finally bring recognition to their service.
“I would like to see something done for these guys soon enough that some of them will still be around,” Geroux said.
Moved by the veterans present and the words of Geroux, U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who sponsored the bill, said he could “see the price of freedom,” and promised to do everything he can to get the bill passed.
“We were wrong. We should’ve done it sooner. But it’s better to do it now then never do it all,” Green said.