Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman John Garamendi Introduces the World War II Merchant Marine Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2018

May 24, 2018
Press Release

Garamendi meets with WWII Merchant Marine Veterans and family members of deceased veterans in Washington, DC: May 23, 2018. (Link to full-res photo available here)


WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced H.R. 5879, the World War II Merchant Marine Congressional Gold Medal Act. 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 the WWII.

“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 Garamendi. “The casualty ratio among Merchant Mariners was the highest of all branches of our armed forces: An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives, and another 12,000 were wounded, to make sure our servicemembers could keep fighting. Incredibly, these brave men and women who put their lives on the line were not even given veteran status until 1988.”

“I got 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.”

A video of Congressman Garamendi’s remarks on the House floor in support of the bill can be found here.

(file photo: the SS John W. Brown, one of two surviving Liberty Ships from the World War II era. Credit: Wikimedia commons)