It must be a good is a if two people have it at the same time, and this is the case in relation to this page and the American Merchant Marine Memorial monument in Camden, New Jersey which was dedicated on June 11, 2005. I first put a page on the Internet as an on-line memorial to the men from Camden, New Jersey and other towns in Camden County who died while serving in America's Merchant Marine during World War II in late 2002, while Charles Mardigian got the ball rolling on having a physical monument placed on the Camden Waterfront around the same time. Neither of us were aware of the others efforts, and we first met by phone, through Joe Balzano of the South Jersey Port Corporation, in July of 2005. Click to the link below to find out more about the merchant marine and those from Camden and Camden County who made the ultimate sacrifice for us during World War II.
On September 27, 1942, the Liberty Ship, Stephen Hopkins, encountered the German auxiliary cruiser Stier and her escort, the blockade runner Tannenfels in the South Atlantic.
Stier was an armed commerce raider. The Tannenfels delivered supplies
and took off prisoners from surface raiders operating in the South
Atlantic. The Stephen Hopkins carried a crew of forty and a fifteen-man
naval armed guard. She was under the command of Captain Paul Buck. Her
main firepower was one 4-inch gun and dual 37-mm machine guns mounted on
the bow. Refusing to strike his colors, but with German shells on their
way, Captain Buck made his decision. He would fight rather than
surrender. The Stier had met and sunk 19 other merchant vessels of
various Allied nationalities. None of these ships put up any resistance.
The American tanker Stanvac Calcutta put up a fight but was sunk with
the loss of fourteen of her crew, including the captain, and two members
of her armed guard. A gun battle between the Stephen Hopkins and the
Steir and Tannenfels ensued reminiscent of the ship-to-ship battles of
the War of 1812. The Stier was to follow the Stephen Hopkins to the
bottom in the 2,200 fathom deep above which they had duelled. The
Tannenfels, although damaged, made Bordeaux. Fifteen survivors of the
Stephen Hopkins sailed a lifeboat 1000 miles from the site of the battle
to a landing at the small Brazilian fishing village of Barra do
Itabopana. There were many heroes of this battle; however, with the Navy
gun crew dead or dying about him and the magazine afire below, Cadet
Midshipman Edwin J. O'Hara continued firing the Hopkins' 4-inch shells
until he ran out of shells. He was later killed by flying shrapnel. The
cover painting hangs in O'Hara Hall at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
O'Hara was 18 years of age. He had escaped the blazing engine room, had
learned basic gunnery at the Merchant Marine Academy, and from his
friend, Ensign Kenneth M. Willett, U.S.N.R., commander of the naval
armed guard who was also fatally wounded in the gun battle. O'Hara
single handedly manned the 4-inch gun, loading and firing the remaining
five rounds scoring hits on the Stier and Tannenfels. The nation
bestowed a whole cluster of posthumous awards on the ship and her heroic
company. The Stephen Hopkins herself was awarded a Gallant Ship
citation, and two later Liberty Ships were christened the Stephen
Hopkins and the Paul Buck. A destroyer escort (DE354) was named for
Ensign Willett. For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage,
Willett was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. The Merchant Marine
Distinguished Service Medals were posthumously bestowed on Captain Buck
and Cadet Midshipman O'Hara.
MERCHANT MARINE AND U.S. NAVY ARMED GUARD
U.S. MERCHANT MARINE
GOVERNMENT OWNED VESSELS
OPERATED BY PRIVATE SHIPPING COMPANIES. THE MERCHANT MARINE WAS
RESPONSIBLE FOR TRANSPORTING FULLY 85% OF THE TROOPS, AMMUNITION AND SUPPLIES
USED TO SUPPORT THE ALLIED WAR £EFFORT DURING WORLD
WAR II AND
IS CREDITED WITH CONTRIBUTING DECISIVELY TO THE ULTIMATE ALLIED VICTORY, THE
MERCHANT MARINE SUFFERED MORE LOSS OF LIFE. BY PERCENTAGE, THAN
ANY BRANCH OF ARMED SERVICE. ONE IN 20
MARINERS SERVING ABOARD MERCHANT
SHIPS IN WORLD WAR DIED IN THE LINE OF DUTY. THE MERCHANT MARINE:
AND THE U.S. NAVY
WHICH MANNED THE
ARE TRULY THE FORGOTTEN HEROES OF
WORLD WAR II.
MEN WHO SERVED THE WAR EFFORT WITH THE U.S. MERCHANT MARINE WERE ALL VOLUNTEERS
RANGING IN AGE FROM 16 TO 78 YEARS OLD. NO ONE WAS DRAFTED
INTO THE U.S. MARITIME SERVICE. MANY OF THE VOLUNTEERS WERE "UNFIT"
FOR THE MILITARY
DUE TO HEALTH OR DISABILITIES. THEY COULD HAVE STAYED
HOME BUT WERE EAGER TO HELP WIN THE WAR AND CHOSE TO RISK THE PERILS-S
OF THE SEA.
SHIPS FACED DANGER
FROM SUBMARINES.6URFACE SHIPS, AIRCRAFT, MINES AND THE ELEMENTS. IT IS ESTIMATED
THAT OVER 9300
KILLED AND OVER 12,000 WERE WOUNDED. THE U.S. NAVY ARMED GUARD LOST OVER
2000 MEN. AND 1100 WERE WOUNDED. 600 MEN WERE CAPTURED
AND HELD AS PRISONERS OF WAR. OVER 863 SHIPS WERE LOST DUE TO ENEMY
ACTION, 31 SHIPS VANISHING WITHOUT A TRACE.
RECEIVED PAY ONLY WHILE SERVING ABOARD
SHIP. IF A MARINER'S SHIP WAS SUNK,
HIS PAY STOPPED
HIS OWN WAY
HOME AND AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. WHEN A MARINER RETURNED TO HIS HOME PORT, HE
WAS OFTEN LOOKING FOR ANOTHER VESSEL TO GO BACK TO SEA, SOMETIMES ONLY TO
LOSE ANOTHER SHIP. THESE PROFESSIONAL SAILORS NEVER LOST FAITH IN THEIR
COUNTRY IN TIME OF WAR. THEIR EFFORTS
THE SIGNING OF THE PEACE TREATY; THEY STAYED UNTIL ALL OF
OUR TROOPS WERE SAFELY
MARINERS DID NOT RECEIVE PRIORITY FOR jWAR LOSS OR MEDICAL CARE FOR
DISABILITIES. THEY WERE NOT ELIGIBLE
FOR UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
OR LOW-COST LOANS OR EDUCATION, HOMES OR SMALL BUSINESSES. THEY SUFFERED
FINANCIAL REPERCUSSIONS FROM THIS LACK OF BENEFITS
AND OPPORTUNITY ALL OF THEIR
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FINALLY GRANTED VETERAN STATUS TO THE: MERCHANT MARINE IN 1988.
FROM COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS BY
While the Merchant Marine belongs to the Department of Transportation, there has long been a close association between our merchant marine and the armed services. Since I became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a little over two years ago, I have come to appreciate firsthand why our merchant mariners have long considered themselves the nation's fourth arn of defense.
Because the American seafarer provides an essential service to the well-being of the nation, as was demonstrated so clearly during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Merchant mariners-including many of you seated here before me-worked side by side with soldiers, sailors, airman, marines and coast guardsmen to get the job done that needed to be done at the time.
You know, earlier this month, we observed an historic anniversary from another war. June fourth marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Midway, that great United States naval victory that marked a turning point in the war in the Pacific during World War II.
While the heroes of that battle are well known, the heroes of another epic struggle that was being fought that very same time halfway around the world are not so well know to Americans.
Fifty years ago today, U.S. merchant vessels operated by your forebears were battling the frigid seas of the North Atlantic to provide the lifeline to our allies in Europe. The sacrifice of those mariners was essential to keeping us in the war until we could go on the offensive.
It was a battle that, frankly, in the darkest days of 1942, we were in danger of losing. Our merchant ships were sitting ducks as they sailed from East coast ports, with German U-boats off our coasts ready to prey upon the unprotected fleets. In World War II, enemy attacks sank more than 700 U.S.- flag vessels and claimed the lives of more than 6,000 brave civilian seafarers. On this day fifty years ago, June 15, 1942, five U.S. flagged ships were sunk or damaged, and hundreds of lives lost, trying to make that perilous journey across the Atlantic.
far from here stands the war memorial honoring the 142 Kings Pointers
who died keeping that sea bridge open to our allies and to our troops. I
am sure that every cadet, as I did this morning, has gazed upon the Roll
of Honor in the Mariners' Chapel which bears the names of those heroes
and the inscription, "To the glory of god and in everlasting memory
of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of freedom."
too many years, the pivotal contribution of the merchant marine to our
victory in World War II has been overlooked. But now the situation has
begun to be rectified. On National Maritime Day this past May, Secretary
Card awarded new medals for civilian merchant seamen who served during
that conflict, as well as new service medals for the veterans of Korea
and Vietnam. Men like Captain David Smith, who served in the U.S. Navy
during World War II, and later as a merchant
mariner, helped ferry supplies to troops in Korea, and Vietnam, and the
let there be no doubt among any in this audience, America is eternally
grateful to all those who served in our merchant marine over the
years-grateful for their efforts, their commitment and their sacrifice
in defense for our beloved America. They are second to none.
find myself often quoting President Eisenhower, and I think he put it
best when he said, "No man can always be right. So the struggle is
to do one's best; to keep the brain and conscience clear; never to be
swayed by unworthy motives or inconsequential reasons, but to strive to
unearth the basic factors involved and then do one's duty."
are carrying on a tradition of duty-the tradition of the seafarer, of
the mariner, a tradition that predates the birth of our nation, and that
is inseparable from its proud history.
am an infantryman. I have deployed to foxholes. I have deployed to
armored fighting vehicles, I have deployed to tanks. But, I have never
gone to sea. I have not gone "down to the sea again, to the lonely
sea and sky" asking only for "a tall ship, and a star to steer
who have, who have served for months at sea without seeing their
families and loved ones, have my utmost respect and my utmost
are not alone in their service. We often forget that the life of a
seafarer is a sacrifice shared with their families. Those who wait
months - who stand at the pier anxiously searching for a loved one's
ship to appear over the horizon - deserve our gratitude and our admiration
General Powell delivered the above Commencement Address to the Class of 1992, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point on June 15, 1992.
Wreath Laying Ceremony
Sunday June 12,2005 Penn's Landing, Philadelphia PA
of only two surviving fully. operational Liberty ships preserved in the
U.S., the is a product of the Emergency Shipbuilding Program that built
more than 2,700 liberty ships during World War II. Designed for quick
and relatively easy construction, Liberty ships made possible the
massive sealift of troops, arms, and material to all theaters of the
war. The Brown was built in 56 days by the Bethlehem-Fairfield
Shipyard in Baltimore.
Brown made 13 voyages during and immediately after the war. Those
voyages took ner to the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, and
Northern Europe. The Brown was at the Anzio beachhead and was
part of the invasion force at Operation Dragoon, the invasion of
Southern France in August 1944. The Brown was awarded the
merchant marine Victory Medal, the Combat Bar, and war zone medals for
the Atlantic, the Mediterranean/Middle East, and the Pacific theaters.
After carrying Marshall Plan cargoes to Europe to aid in post-war rebuilding, the ship was used as a vocational high school in New York City from 1946 to 1982. She was then returned to the James River Reserve Fleet until acquired by Project Liberty Ship in 1988. The Brown has been fully restored and is an operating museum ship and memorial.
FROM THE UNITED MERCHANT MARINE AT
UNITED STATES was a member of a fighting team of United Nations that won
the greatest war in history. There were three major players who
represented the United States on that team: Our fighting forces
overseas, the production army here at home, and the link between them-
the United States Merchant Marine. Each of the three was dependent upon
the other; and together with their counterparts in other United Nations,
a winning combination was evolved which smashed the Axis powers beyond
before has the maritime power of America been so effectively utilized.
Its naval and merchant fleets became the difference between victory and
defeat. Just as our Merchant Marine linked American overseas forces with
American production, so it aided in cementing the United Nations into
one fighting unit not separated, but joined by the oceans. In this
capacity, the United States Merchant Marine, possessing finally the
largest number of merchant ships in the United Nations' pool of
shipping, can probably be credited as the greatest single strategic
factor in the defeat of the Axis powers.
advances made during the war in explosives, long-distance detecting
and navigating devices and the overwhelming development of bomber air fleets
tend to obscure the contribution of the slower, but nevertheless
relentless, pressure of sea power. Allied sea power, despite keen and
intelligent opposition by the enemy, kept the United Nations supplied
with, and enemy nations denied access to, the raw materials and
fabricated products essential to victory.
land power, with reserve war stock piles, relied upon speed of conquest
to overcome its lack of access to overseas, supplies principally from
America and once again launched a U-boat fleet to choke off these
supplies from Britain and Russia. The heroism of these nations,
including the effective antisubmarine warfare carried on first by the
British and later by the Anglo-American navies, forced Germany into the
long war she could not sustain. Later the coup de grace was given by the
combined air fleets and the Russian steam roller-both of which owed
their basic power to the stream of supplies carried around the world in
Japan the role of our Navy was reversed. It fought in the main an
offensive war instead of defensive operations to protect our cargo-ship
supply lines; American submarines succeeded where the Germans had failed
and Japan's sea lanes were closed and her merchant fleet sunk while ours
sailed in comparative security. Japan could not overcome these blows and
came to her final defeat in a manner somewhat akin to that of
Germany-from the air and from the seagoing power of the United States
our Merchant Marine met its two assignments: To knit the oceanseparated
United Nations into a single wartime organization, and to place our
armies and their equipment on hostile territory and maintain them there.
carrying out the latter assignment, we can say that our fighting forces
were never knocked off an important beachhead, nor, thanks to the
merchant fleet, did we in any instance fail to develop our landing with
a steadily increased flow of supplies that enabled our armies to meet
knowledge will be the everlasting satisfaction of the men and women who
engaged in the many tasks of building the ships and preparing them for
sea, and the men who sailed those ships through the enemy's sub·
marines in every ocean.
it took to win
member of the American team had its high point symbolizing its enormous
contribution to the victory: Among the armed services witness the United
States Army on the beaches of Normandy and Okinawa; the Air Forces in
the great sky battle over Regensberg; the United States Navy in the
Battle of Midway when Japan's sea power was turned on its road to ruin;
the United Sates Marine Corps at the pinnacle of its glory atop Mount
production army commenced its grim race to fabricate the tools of
victory with aid to our Allies as the "Arsenal of Democracy, "
and climaxed it by reaching the beginning of a new era of man, at the
threshold of the age of atomic power.
Merchant Marine, too, had its high point. The Murmansk run perhaps best
symbolizes its contribution to victory. Our merchant ships ran innumerable
gauntlets of air, surface, and submarine attack ranging from the
early danger zones in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to mid-Atlantic
and the Mediterranean, and the kamakaze attacks off the islands of the
Pacific. But none of these combined all elements of danger from man and
nature alike, such as did the Murmansk run.
war with Japan prevented full use of our World War I shipping lane to
Russia through the port of Vladivostok; the Mediterranean was long
closed as a gateway to Russian ports; into the Persian Gulf meant the
long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope. The most direct, then, was
through the Denmark Straits between Iceland and Greenland, then around
the North Cape of Norway into Murmansk.
icy, fog-bound seas, their flanks exposed to the dive bombers, surface
raiders, and submarines moving out from the Nazi-held fjords of Norway,
the slow gray convoys moved-and kept moving. Nor was there sanctuary at
their destination, for every hour on the hour, it was said, the
black-cross planes of the Luftwaffe blasted heartbreaking delays in the
grim business of unloading the ships in the ice-cluttered harbor of
Murmansk. Yet the cargoes were delivered.
symbolizing the victory of the Merchant Marine over man and nature in
their cruelest forms, the Murmansk run also exemplified the high price
at which we bought victory.
to V-J day, 733 American merchant vessels of over 1,000 gross tons were
sunk during the war, victims of torpedoes, bombs, mines, and marine
disasters largely caused by war conditions. This was more than half the
tonnage of our prewar Merchant Marine. Hundreds of small craft were also
lost, while other hundreds were damaged but survived enemy attack, and
many in turn destroyed the attackers.
total of 5,638 merchant seamen and officers are dead and missing; 581
were made prisoners of war. Through the first part of 1943, casualties
among the seagoing force were greater proportionately than in all the
armed services combined. Unreported thousands of our seamen and officers
were injured under attack or suffered the nightmare of waiting aboard
lifeboats and rafts for rescue.
summarizing the value of the United States Merchant Marine to the
military and naval forces, and thereby fulfilling its role as an arm of
national I defense, it is clear that we must view the Merchant Marine as
a whole- the' ships, the administrative organization which included the
industry, the port and repair facilities, the shipyards from which came
the ships, the training program necessary to supply the thousands of men
needed in addition to the reservoir of already experienced seamen, all a
unified, flexible whole which resulted in an adequate cargo-carrying
capacity available at the time, the place, and in enough strength to
carry out the logistical processes of the greatest war in history.
evaluating the service of the Merchant Marine to the military and naval
establishments, the opinions of the men in command of the armed services
should be considered.
On November 2, 1945, Fleet Admiral Ernest J.
King, Commander in Chief of the United States Navy and Chief of Naval
Operations, wrote to Admiral
Land the following:
the past 3 2 years, the Navy has been dependent upon the Merchant Marine
to supply our far-flung fleet and bases. Without this support, the
Navy could not have accomplished its mission. Consequently, it is
fitting that the Merchant Marine share in our success as it shared in
Merchant Marine is a strong bulwark of national defense in peace and
war, and a buttress to a sound national economy. A large Merchant Marine
is not only an important national resource; it is, in being, an integral
part of the country's armed might during time of crisis. During World
War II, this precept has been proven.
the Merchant Marine returns to its peacetime pursuits, I take pleasure
in expressing the Navy's heartfelt thanks to you and through you to the
officers and men of the Merchant Marine for their magnificent support
during World War II. All hands can feel a pride of accomplishment in a
job well done.
wish the Merchant Marine every success during the years ahead and
sincerely hope that it remains strong and continues as a vital and
integral part of our national economy and defense."
commanders knew the value of the Merchant Marine lifeline to their
operations. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said:
man in this Allied command is quick to express his admiration for the
loyalty, courage, and fortitude of the officers and men of the Merchant
Marine. We count upon their efficiency and their utter devotion to duty
as we do our own; they have never failed us yet and in all the struggles
yet to come we know that they will never be deterred by any danger,
hardship, or privation.
Douglas Mac Arthur said: "I wish to commend to you the valor of the
merchant seamen participating with us in the liberation of the
Philippines. With us they have shared the heaviest enemy fire. On this
island I have ordered them off their ships and into fox holes when their
ships became untenable targets of attack. At our side they have suffered
in bloodshed and in death. The high caliber of efficiency and the
courage they displayed in their part of the invasion of the Philippines
marked their conduct throughout the entire campaign in the southwest
Pacific area. They have contributed tremendously to our success. I hold
no branch in higher esteem than the Merchant Marine Services."
New Generation of Seamen
the retention of many active merchant seamen and officers and the
recruitment back to sea of previously experienced men, many more were
needed to man the thousands of new ships.
as part of the United States Maritime Commission's responsibility
under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, there had been in effect since
1938 a training program for officers and seamen. Shortly after the war
began, it was transferred to the WSA and expanded to meet the
WSA's Training Organization filled this need. In so doing, it gave
thousands of young men from every State in the Union and from all walks
of life, a chance to continue in the profession during peacetime. Today,
because of the training program, there is a body of experienced seamen
program was carried on by three units under the Training Organization:
The United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps., the United States
Maritime Service, and State Maritime Academics under Federal
Cadet Corps. provides merchant officer training in deck and engine
departments for young unmarried men with high school of college
education. Entry into the Corps is conditional upon meeting
qualifications as as midshipmen in the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve.
Principal institution of the Corps is the United States Merchant Marine
Academy at King Point, NY established in January 1941. This is a
permanent facility bearing the same relationship to the Merchant Marine
s West Point does to the Army and Annapolis to the Navy. Two basic
schools, at Pass Christian, Miss., and San Mateo, California, provide
preliminary training. All cadet-midshipmen must serve an intermediate
period at sea aboard merchant vessels.
missing, and many displayed conspicuous bravery under combat conditions.
Although geared during the war to as fast a program as possible to
fill the need for trained officers, the course at the Academy will
return to a 4-year basis.
United States Maritime Service operated large training stations for
unlicenced seamen in deck, engine and stewards departments at Sheepshead
Bay, NY; Avalon, California St. Petersburg, Florida. Further training
was provided as carpenters' mates, radio operators, and purserhospital
corpsmen for those selected from enrollees after five weeks of basic
training. Special radio schools were maintained at Gallup's Island,
Boston Harbor, Mass and at Hoffman Island, New York Harbor. Officers'
schools are maintained at Fort Trumbull, New London, Conn., and Alameda,
California where deck and engine men with at lease 14 months' sea
service were given a 4 months' course to qualify them to sit for their
licenses, and which provided refresher courses for officers for a
renewal of expired licences.
United States Maritime Service also conducted special courses of
instruction in Diesel engineering, turbo-electric and high pressure
turbine propulsion, signaling use of barrage balloons aboard ship, and
chief steward training.
Maritime Services' upgrading program was particularly effective in
helping officers, seamen, cooks and bakers to raise their grades. This
was an essential process to fill continuous vacancies in the higher
ranks and ratings. Upgrade schools were located in Baltimore, Boston New
York, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Wilmington,
January 1, 1944, the United States Maritime Service Institute in New
York City, conducts correspondence courses to be taken at sea. Since its
inception, more that 15,000 men have registered.
are at present, five State Maritime Academies which come under Federal
supervision due to the fact that they are partially supported with
Federal funds. They are located in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New
York, and Pennsylvania. Requirements for admission are essentially the
same as for the United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps.
From 1938 to December 1,1945, the training program has graduated and made available to the Merchant Marine 31,986 officers, (7,291 from the Cadet Corps. 21,988 from the Maritime Service, and 2,707 from the State Maritime Academies, 7,727 radio operators, 150,734 unlicensed semen in -all ratings, 5,034 junior assistant purser-hospital corpsmen, 2588 junior marine officers for the Transportation Corps, United States Army Service Forces, 36,620 from deck, engine and steward upgrade schools 996 from license refresher schools 3,653 from turbo electric and 642 from high pressure and geared turbine school 1066 Diesel engineers, 2024 6 weeks engineers and 127 river pilot trainees, The following special schools, graduated Barrage balloon, 7980, visual signaling, 10,001; safety at sear 1,316. There was a grand total of 262,474 graduates turned out under the WSA training program.
MERCHANT MARINE VETERANS
A. Roland Chapter (NJ)
GUEST BOOK & E-MAIL
As of this date, September 17, 2005 I have not erected a guest-book. Please e-mail all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like your comment published in the upcoming guest-book, please let me know.-