Bravery and Heroism Continues Today
On Saturday, May 22nd, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the National Charles D. Naylor and Arthur A. Leonard at the American Merchant Marine Veterans MemorialMaritime Day observance and memorial service at the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial. I pass by this memorial every day, just a quick walk from the doors of our office here in San Pedro, with the Port of Los Angeles as its backdrop. On this day however, as I stop and take a seat in front of the memorial adorned with the names of fallen American Merchant Mariners, I am reminded of the mariners and seamen who have so bravely served our country.
During World War II, the American Merchant Marines played a vital role in our ultimate success by crossing the Atlantic to deliver troops and supplies to the to the British. This of course meant that the fleets of the American Merchant Marines were a favorite target of the Nazi’s and were often subject to attacks by enemy submarines, destroyers and aircraft – with the intent to sink the ship’s cargo and its crew. The American Merchant Marine had a 30% casualty rate during World War II, the highest casualty rate of all the services. During the National Maritime Day memorial, we took time to honor the lives that were lost..
It’s important to remember, however, that the bravery and heroism of the American Merchant Marines did not end with World War II. It continues today with the American Merchant Mariners continued support to our troops in war zones overseas and in their service on cargo ships, tankers and vessels of every variety.
In my career, I have been honored to know many brave seamen who risked their own lives in the struggle to save their ship, or a fellow crew member. There was “John,” who jumped into the water between his tug boat and a barge to pull an unconscious and drowning crew mate to safety; and “Lawrence” who went below decks after a fire to search for lost crew members in the dark, carbon dioxide filled engine room of his disabled ship; and there was “Andrea” who took charge and put out the call for help when the oil drilling ship she was on exploded in the Gulf.
The American Merchant Marine has earned our thanks and support.