Assistance for WW II Veterans of the Merchant Marine


Merchant Marines Needs Help Now!

by John P. Allen

As a former member of the US Merchant Marine and the USCG, James D, Horton is reaching out to all Veteran Service Organizations for help.  He needs assistance from  VSOs that support the US Merchant Marine as a veteran. 

They were Americans that came from all walks of life, multiracial and varied ethnic groups, but they all served with pride and honor; with one thing in mind to serve their country in the best way they could.  Partisan politics played no part in their desire to serve and should not play any part in correcting a wrong that has gone on for 60 years.  Some of the chartered VSO seem to have forgotten their involvement.  Where does your organization stand on this issue?  As one veteran to another they are in need of help. 

They are attempting to gain recognition for some 10,000 Merchant Marine seamen that served on the East coast and probably just as many on the Gulf and West coasts.  These merchant marine seamen served on seagoing tugs and barges carrying war materials up and down the East Coast on the Atlantic seaboard.  Those seamen worked on obsolete barges, with below standard living conditions and rock bottom pay.  These barges have long since been replaced with larger and more modern ships, placing them out of service as well as the companies owning them and; with records lost to history. 


Nevertheless they served and should be recognized, just as much so as the Filipino veterans who just received recognition through the last stimulus package via a 198 Million dollar grant.  Collectively, If VSO’s and people can help others it should be done.

Research has identified US Government Agency actions that have placed these seamen at high risk of not receiving their due recognition.  Public Laws 95-202 and 105-368 gave these seamen US Veterans status for those serving between 07 Dec., 1941 and 31 Dec., 1946, provided they met certain service criteria.  Trip discharges and entries in ship’s logbooks were the primary criteria for proof of service.  On Mar. 20 of 1944, The CMDT, USCG issued an order to the Masters of tugs, towboats, and seagoing barges that relieved them of the responsibility of issuing shipping and discharge papers to seamen shipped. 

Additional research from the National Archives and Records Administration brought forth this report: “After WW II, the deck and engineering logbooks of vessels operated by the WSA were turned over to that agency by the ship owners, and were later destroyed, by the Maritime Administration, in the 1970s on the grounds that they were voluminous, costly to house and service, and very seldom used for research”. Without those discharges and ship’s logbooks it makes applying and obtaining a Form DD 214 near impossible.  Additional info can be found at

Applications being mailed to gain recognition as veterans are repeatedly rejected by the National Maritime Center because they cannot find records (trip discharges and/or logbooks) that show service for the periods required and they accept little else.  Alternate methods to prove employment must be provided in order for these seamen to become veterans. This can be accomplished through administrative legislation at no cost.

Can you or your organization commit to supporting an offering to Congress of a proposal (at no cost) leading to legislation that will recognize these seamen and provide veterans’ status for those of the US Merchant Marine?  If so, please send a message to your congressional contacts and request them to support this cause. 

For more info, you can reach James D. Horton at [email protected].



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