Saturday, January 31, 2015

Honoring Our WW II Merchant Marine Act of 2015. HR 563

Bill Proposed to Honor WWII Merchant Mariners HR 563...
By MarEx 2015-01-29 12:38:14
Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44) and Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. (TN-2) introduced the “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015.” This legislation would provide surviving Merchant Marines who served during World War II with a modest benefit for their bravery and sacrifice.
During World War II, more than 200,000 Americans served in the U.S. Merchant Marines and aided our nation’s military efforts in both Europe and the Pacific. Thousands of our Merchant Mariners faced enemy attack and died at sea while hundreds more were captured and held as prisoners of war. Despite having the highest casualty rate of any U.S.
service during the war, they were not eligible to receive veteran’s benefits.
“The veterans of the Merchant Marine risked their lives in the service of this nation, but we have never properly thanked them,” said Congresswoman Hahn. “Let us finally right this wrong and repay our debt of gratitude owed to these heroes.”
The legislation would provide a one-time lump sum of $25,000 to each of surviving WWII Merchant Marines. As many of these veterans are now well into their 90s, and fewer than five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in World War II are alive, the Congresswoman stressed the importance of passing this bill as quickly as possible.
“So few of these Merchant Mariners are with us today,” noted Congresswoman Hahn. “Time is running out to thank them properly, and I encourage my colleagues to act quickly in cosponsoring and passing this important legislation.”
Congressman Duncan said, “I have helped thousands of Veterans and those on active duty and have great respect for them. The word 'hero' is tossed around too lightly today, but I think anyone who puts their life on the line for their country deserves that description. Although the Merchant Marines were not formally recognized as Veterans, they are very patriotic and brave Americans whose sacrifice for our Nation cannot be repaid.”
  • Don Horton

Saturday, January 3, 2015


New Research had discovered another major gaffe concerning our WW II Merchant Marine.  During WW II our US Merchant Marine suffered perhaps the highest casualty rate than any other services.  One in Twenty-Six has been reported as the rate of loss for these mariners.  The chart below provides specifics.  What is tragic about this is our Nation has failed to acknowledge those lost Mariners as veterans to this country.  If one serves this country and gives his life in the line of combat duty, should this nation not recognize him for that sacrifice?  Apparently not.  Research had revealed that about 9500 Mariners made the ultimate sacrifice and less than 425 have been awarded the distinction as veterans.  What happened?  Did the government lose/destroy these records?  Not so; and still no one is attempting to correct this travesty.  This is an embarrassment to our nation.

Our government has known of this and has done nothing about it for over 70 years.  How can our nation be so callous as to just forget about those that gave their lives so others may live?  How can they keep making promises to our troops by telling them they will be taken care of if they take care of business over there?

In every political rally/speech made by any politician it is completely clear on how they stand.  Words spew from them all the time saying “we must not forget our veterans”; “we must take care of them when they come home”; we will not let our veterans down.”  Our politicians quickly forget all the avowals made and little is upheld.
Agreements have been in place allowing our researchers an opportunity to identify more of our mariners; but actions to comply with the agreements have not taken place for those that control the personnel records of our mariners and inquiries as to why they have not complied are needed
 This poses a significant question ---did these brave men and women of courage, those who now reside in silence beneath the frigid waters, give themselves, along with all of their tomorrows, for but a single day in their often short lives?  Or did these gallant departed Americans die for all who will follow them in the future?  Something must be done.  Please contact your members of congress and demand they correct this grave injustice.







Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Recent research of 29 barges and tugs brought forth 1172 seamen who served between 1942 and 1943  in the US Merchant Marine.  From that group there were 84 mariners with traditionally female names who served aboard those vessels.  That transmits to a ratio of almost 9 percent of the work-force being women, if one could use this finding to be an approximate ratio of seamen who served on coastwise vessels.  In today’s military service, where women are recognized for their service, the ratio is placed at 14%.  This finding provides an astounding proportion of women serving during World War II in the Merchant Marine that have never been officially recognized as seamen and veterans.  This is wrong and it must be corrected.

 USCG Official Shipping/Discharge documents (Forms 718A) were obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration, Wash. DC that contained information proving Active Duty (AD) services for some WW II coastwise barge and tug Merchant Mariners.  In conjunction with information obtained via a FOIA request to the National Maritime Center,   research conducted between June-August 2013, in concert with the NMC, using official records of 1172 coastwise merchant mariners revealed the following:

WW II Coastwise Mariners Listing:  Ref: Excel Sheet #1
1172       Mariners identified via official USCG Shipping/Discharge Forms 718A
    84       Mariners may be women according to their feminine sounding names; OR 7.2%
1058       Mariners’ ages were specified.  Ages ranged from 10 to 78.
  583       Mariners identified within draft age and included those in 4F status; OR 55.1% of known ages.
  525       Mariners identified at over the draft age of 37; OR 49.6% of known ages.
  114       Mariners with age not specified; OR 09.7%
    47       Mariners who served were under the age of 17; OR 4.4% of known ages.
   16        Mariners KIA with 1 receiving DD Form 1300.

National Maritime Form DD 214 Listing: Ref: Excel Sheet #2
 794        Mariners were identified on NMC Coastwise Mariners listing identifying AD services.
 291        Mariners on NMC listing had no USCG MMLD numbers listed; OR 36.6%
   85        Mariners issued DD Form 214 from NMC listing, OR 10.7% of NMC; OR 7.2% of WW II CMM

National Maritime DD Form 1300 listing: Ref: Excel Sheet #3
 348        Mariners listed on NMC DD 1300 file as having received DD Form 1300 from overall estimated number of approximate 9500 Mariners KIA, OR 3.7%
     1         Mariner in NMC DD 1300 files as having received Form DD 1300 yet 16 identified on WW II CM listing
   68        Mariners listed on NMC listing & not listed on WW II MM Personnel Casualty Summary Report of 1950

Earlier research had brought forth two other actions that have prohibited seamen who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II from seeking recognition as veterans.  (1) The Commandant of the US Coast Guard’s Order of 20 Mar 1944 relieved the masters of tugs and seagoing barges of the responsibility of issuing shipping and discharge papers to seamen.  (2) The US Maritime Administration issued orders to destroy ship’s deck and engine logbooks in the 1970s. They indicated they were too costly to maintain, too cumbersome to maintain and hardly used for research. The USCG Reference Information Paper #77 dated April, 1992 refers.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


My fellow Mariners we just got the word that all effort to have some 30,000 coastwise mariners from WWII gain recognition as veterans has been torpedoed and we have lost the battle.  Our own congress did what the enemy couldn't do to our mariners.  They turned their back on their own and put us up on the beach.  They also did this behind closed doors and via staff procedures vice on the Senate/House floor for all to see.

What can be said about those that stand up for our country when they were needed; only to be keelhauled by those that purport to support them?  What can be said about those that use the veteran platform, with all types of promises on their journey to congress, only to cut them adrift when they launch their career?  What can be said of those who use misinformation to state their reason to not support them and use the same info to sink it when it does have a chance to make it out of congress?  What can be said when they destroy the chance of some 30,000 mariners to gain recognition as veterans at no cost to our government?

This just happened to our Congressional bill, “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act” that was amended into the House National Defense Authorization Act and a proposed Senate amendment to the Senate National Defense Authorization Act.  Both were set for review; and through this backdoor staff committee of individuals from both Veterans’ Affairs Committees.

Information received indicates that some staff members of the committee objected to the language contained in the bill and decided against it.  Perhaps that may have been the language that described the necessity to use alternative methods of recognition to assist these mariners to obtain their due recognition as veterans.  Or the Language to replace documents that were destroyed/denied by predecessors of the Agencies these staffers represent. Perhaps it was the language that would have provided information that would have identified that some assertions made by Senate members may have been in fact misinformation that was used to put us on the beach.

Some 30 thousand mariners and the many tens of thousands of their descendants will not find closure for their loved ones that our Congress had in their hands to make available but failed to deliver. This travesty will not even make the history books and will be lost to oblivion as these mariners seemed to be.  A shame I hope many will know,bare and remember.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Final Attempt to Obtain Support WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act, Same letter sent to all US Senators

WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners
J. Don Horton, President                                                                                                                          104 Riverview Ave,                        252 336 5553                                                                                                                                              Camden, NC 27921                                                                                                                                                                      
The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY                                                              25 Nov. 2014
Member of the US Senate
478 Russell SOB, Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

The 113th Congress is closing very soon and a very important issue is still hanging in the balance.  The vast majority of our veterans of the WW II Merchant Marine still lack their due recognition as veterans, including those that gave their lives for our country.  The court ruling via Schumacher, Willner, et al, V. Secretar  of the Air Force Edward C. Aldridge, Jr 665 F supp 41 1987 provided veteran status to our Mariners, providing they could prove service.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) cannot provide accurate numbers as to how many mariners served during WW II IAW GAO/HEHS-97-196R findings. The USCG states as many as 840,000 credentials were issued to seafarers during 1939-1946 but are unable to state how many served in combat zones.  Historians have settled on about 250,000 serving in combat zones.  The National Maritime Center (NMC) states only about 91,000 have received their due veteran recognition.  Official USCG records identify more than 5650 mariners having been KIA/MIA during WW II yet the NMC state only about 414 have been recognized as veterans.  New York lost the most mariners of any state with the greatest majority still not recognized.

Anyone who honorably served our nation has a right to be recognized for their service.  This has been recognized and so stated by just about everyone who served our nation as a member of our Congress.  We believe you share this sentiment.

When Congress convenes next month, they should address our National Defense Authorization (NDAA) Bills.  There are provisions already in the HR 4435 and an Amendment (SA 3548) for inclusion in S 2410 of the Senate representing WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act that will allow for alternative methods of recognition. These alternative methods of recognition will supplement Government actions that removed some of the required documents from the reach of our veterans. These bills have been scored by CBO as DeMinimis so costs are not an issue.

Accordingly the WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners respectfully request your support in getting these bills to the floor and incorporated into the prevailing NDAA. We represent some 30,000 mariners and the many thousands of descendants from 3 and 4 generations of seafarers who are looking for closure to a travesty ongoing for more than 70 years. I come from a family of 6 who served.  Will you help us?  We stand by anxiously awaiting your response and intent.

Very Respectfully,                                                                           Fax: 202 208 0282                                                                                                                                                                                           J. Don Horton

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Battle Stations.... WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners.... We are under attack!!!

Excerpt from the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) email sent to all FHA Members on 14 Nov, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

“Lame Ducks Work on NDAA.
Although voters selected a new Congress, the current (Lame Duck) Congress still holds office until January 2015. The current Senate is considering derailing floor amendments and a final vote on the Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-S. 2410) and will go with a separate Defense Authorization bill that has been worked on behind closed doors with staff and select members of House and Senate Armed Services Committees. This still unnumbered bill will be delayed until December and will have to be put on the fast-track without any committee or subcommittee hearings. This mystery bill will only have time to get an up or down vote in the House and Senate without any opportunity for amendments.”

If this be the case, this move in affect will torpedo all hopes of getting the WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners recognized for their services.  With less than 1000 still on-board, there is little chance of ever getting them recognized via congressional efforts.  As with many veteran bills, most in congress have little incentive to step up and stay the course when General Quarters are sounded and all hands turn to. Some simply move below decks away from the action or tire of the effort and move on to something more suitable and favorable to them. A sad commentary for those mariners who stood up for us when called upon.  For more history of these gallant seafarers please visit...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Request for co sponsorship of Of Senate Amendment SA 3548 to the NDAA bill in the Senate, sent to all US Senators

WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners
J. Don Horton, President                                                             252 336 5553                                      104 Riverview Ave, Camden, NC 27921                                                                                                                                                                     
The Honorable Elizabeth Warren, D-MA                                                                         07 Nov, 2014  
Member of the US Senate
218 Russell SOB, Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Warren,

Senator Chris Murphy, D-CT has introduced an amendment (SA 3548) to S 2410, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 and needs cosponsor to support this most historic issue.    We must garner the necessary support for this bill or it may be lost to history and we would again have let some veterans down after they stepped up and offered all for this country so that we may enjoy the freedom we have today.   As you know this bipartisan bill was scored by CBO as DeMinimis and should offer no resistance if allowed to proceed when Congress convenes later this month

This amendment would allow alternative documentation be used to support some World War II Merchant Mariners in their quest to obtain veteran status under current laws.  Due to lost and/or denied documentation some of our mariners cannot prove service without additional avenues.   The use of other non-military documents is necessary to prove service.  Specifics will be sent to your staff.

Several actions by our government have put the status of veteran out of reach and without expanding current requirements, allowing other non-military documentation, these veterans will not achieve what has been promised to those who stepped up and served our nation when it was most needed.

In addition to the issues of destroyed/denied documentation, many of these mariners consisted of elderly handicapped, school children and women who stepped up and answered the call to duty.  Often they worked alongside credentialed seamen and performed the same duties. They drew the same wages and paid the same taxes.  They also experienced the same conditions and dangers from the dreaded submarines as their brother seamen.  The only difference was they served without the proper credentials due to the disability, age or gender.  Today this is called discrimination. They contributed greatly to war II.

Senator, we need your help to correct this travesty by setting the record straight and get the few remaining veterans or their families their due recognition?  Soon the S. 2410, National Defense Authorization Act, will be brought to the floor for debate and further action.  Therefore, the WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners respectfully request your support as cosponsor to Senator Murphy’s amendment allowing alternative non-military documentation to prove service as veterans for some WW II coastwise mariners be included in the NDAA.   Thank you for all you do in the US Senate in support our veterans.  Please confirm receipt of this letter and offer your intent.   Happy Veteran’s Day, Senator.

Very Respectfully,                                                                                                                               Fax:  202 228 2072
J. Don Horton