boatjobsonly.com 5-2-19 by Sheila Sova ~ Many people are not aware that the US Merchant Marine of WWII are considered combat veterans. Ask any small town if the USMM WWII Veteran has a flag or monument in their town and most will ask you “What is a USMM WWII Veteran?” Most people do not know or do not care. It is time that we wake up the public and teach them a little bit of history.
This picture was chosen specifically because of the USMM flag that was added to this monument when I inquired of the Chesterfield Veterans Honor Park in Chesterfield MO. After reading that a monument was to be built, I contacted them to give the committee the information they needed to make this decision to honor these forgotten heroes. I have had VFW commanders scream in my face that they are civilian veterans like Rosie the Riveter. Interesting thing, I don’t recall Rosie girls losing up to 10,000 men in WWII to torpedoes, kamikazes or eaten by sharks, frozen in frigid waters of Murmansk Russia.
So I began volunteering for the American Merchant Marine Veterans organization, known as the AMMV. This was to honor my Father (Orville Lee Sova 1927-2015) who was proud of his service as a WWII USMM and drafted into the Army for the Korean War. None of these combat veterans should have been drafted but over 60,000 of them were. This past week I was humbled to spend another full week surrounded by several WWII USMM at the AMMV 33rd Convention in Tampa FL. We rode the American Victory ship on the Salute to Service cruise with Admiral Buzby in attendance as well as our guests Rita Cosby and entertainer Tomaczek Bednarek.
This past week was a “marker in one’s life” when you get the opportunity to be surrounded by 21 WWII US Merchant Marine on the WWII American Victory Ship in Tampa. One gentleman, Walter Broll was in Bari Italy during the explosion of the T2 Tanker carrying mustard gas (unbeknownst to the mariners carrying the gas) and all of his ship mates were lost. Walter was one of the few survivors of the 9 ship convoy and 2000 men killed. Look up on Google “Little Pearl Harbor” or the SS John Harvey. These death tolls were hidden by our government so as not to discourage enlistment. Yet the WWII USMM suffered more casualties per ca-pita than ANY military branch. 1 in 26 we killed while the Marines came in second place 1 in 32. Imagine that a guy in the Navy selling war bonds in the states got the GI Bill yet the men hit by kamikaze planes, burned in hot oil, eaten by sharks or frozen in waters of Murmansk Russia received NOTHING. If he was torpedoed from a ship, his pay stop but the Navy man’s pay continued. This injustice has made these men humble and I have spent one full week blessed to be in their presence.
Walter and every one of these WWII Merchant Marine were never given veteran status until 1988 was a USMM WWII Captain Stanley Wilner sued or government because he was a POW for two years and helped build the Death’s Railway known as the Bridge over River Kwai. He was released weighing 74 lbs. He was dropped off at the airport to his wife while the Navy, Army and Marines that shared the same cell as him were whisked off to military parades. Stanley required back surgery, jaw realignment surgery, dental surgery to reconstruct the damage done by being butted in the face with a rifle. FDR promised the USMM veteran benefits but died immediately after making this promise to these men.
I have dedicated my time and efforts into getting bills passed to recognized these men and will not stop what I am doing until it is done. This past week, Emmy winning TV host, war correspondent, Best Selling Author of “Quiet Hero” journalist Rita Cosby and entertainer Tomaczek Bednarek kept their promise to me and showed up at our convention in Florida. She made each and every one of these men feel very special and called them “Quiet Heroes” as her father was. Even the Maritime Administrator Admiral Buzby made a special appearance as well as founder and CEO of gCaptain John Konrad. If you are into motivation speakers, David Yoho, WWII USMM Veteran and founder of Dave Yoho Associates is now a permanent member! Talk about heavy hitters as guests!
Did you know that EVERY ALLIED nation, gave veteran status or a large bonus when the war ended to ALL their merchant navies that were involved in the war EXCEPT the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?
You can do your part by sending a message to your congressman and senators just by filling out this form with your address. It will send the emails directly to them. Click the link below for an easy to fill form from the Transportation Department.