Veterans Day is a day all Americans should stop and thank the veterans who have put their life on the line at one time or another. But I bet there are very few who know the service that had the highest per capita casualty rate of all the armed services in World War II. It lost one in every 26 men whereas the second most loss was the U.S. Marines with one in every 34.
The contribution of America’s Merchant Marines to our nation’s success in World War II is beyond dispute. They lost 1,500 U.S. Merchant ships. An estimated 9,000 Mariners were killed. Another 12,000 were wounded. Their sacrifices made the Allied victory possible.
Yet they faced incredible injustice. When the war was over, they were overlooked in the GI Bill and weren’t even considered veterans by the federal government until the 1980s. There are very few Merchant Marine World War II veterans left today. All in their 90s.
If you meet one, shake his hand with thanks.
Burt Shearer, Mercer Island