WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, announced that his bill H.R. 5879, the World War II Merchant Marine Congressional Gold Medal Act, now has 103 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. This legislation would award a Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest honors in the United States, to Merchant Mariners who sustained our armed forces during WWII.
“I’m very grateful to this bipartisan group of Congressional colleagues for supporting my effort to recognize the bravery of World War 2 Merchant Mariners,” said Garamendi. “An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives in the war effort, and another 12,000 were wounded, to ensure our servicemembers had the resource they needed to keep up the fight. The Merchant Mariners had the highest casualty rate of all branches of our armed forces, yet it took until 1988 for them to get veteran status. 30 years later, this country still has not recognized their bravery, and I’m very pleased at the broad support in Congress to change that.”
“We are running out of time to right this wrong. I recently had the chance to meet with three World War II Merchant Mariners: Charles Mills of Texas, age 97; Eugene Barner from Kansas, age 92; and Robert Weagant from Illinois, age 92. It’s difficult to describe the thrill, emotion and pride I felt in meeting these mariners who braved German and Japanese submarines in their Liberty Ships as they delivered critical supplies to our servicemembers in the European and Pacific theaters. They deserve public appreciation from their country for their valor. A Congressional Gold Medal would give them the recognition they deserve, and that’s why I’ve introduced this bill: to give these veterans and their families the honor and respect they are owed.”