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Merchant Marines of WWII Receive Congressional Gold Medal Today at Capitol Hill Ceremony

WASHINGTON, DC—Wednesday, May 18, 2022, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) joined Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other members of Congress at the United States Capitol to award the Congressional Gold Medal to a group of Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.

In 2020, Garamendi’s Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act passed Congress and was signed into law. This bipartisan law awards a Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest honors in the United States, to American Merchant Mariners who supplied our armed forces during World War II.

“Throughout the Second World War, our armed forces relied on the Merchant Marine to ferry supplies, cargo and personnel into both theaters of operation, and they paid a heavy price in service to their country,” said Congressman Garamendi at the ceremony. “The Merchant Marine suffered the highest per capita casualty rate in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives, and another 12,000 were wounded, to make sure our servicemembers could keep fighting. Yet, these Mariners who put their lives on the line were not even given veteran status until 1988.”

“I had the opportunity to meet with three World War II Merchant Mariners in my office back in 2018—which inspired me to introduce the legislation to honor the Merchant Marines with a Congressional Gold Medal. These mariners put their lives on the line for this country, braving German and Japanese submarines in their Liberty Ships as they delivered critical supplies to our servicemembers in the European and Pacific theaters,” Garamendi continued.

“This gold medal is a symbol of our nation’s deep gratitude for the valor and sacrifice of the World War II Merchant Mariners, and American Merchant Mariners throughout history. They do the dangerous and difficult job of transporting and equipping our military around the world. While there are many current threats facing our nation, I take pride in knowing our Merchant Mariners stand ready to support and defend our homeland and inspire future generations of Mariners to do the same,” Garamendi concluded.