WWII Merchant Marine

MilitaryConnection.com salutes all of the Veterans of World War II. We are losing too many of these heroes. We also need to take a moment and remember the contributions of the Merchant Marines during this war and others. These are brave men and a few women who are too often forgotten or confused with other services. Next time you see a World War II veteran, remember their sacrifices so we have been able to live in the best country in the world.

It has always been a pleasure to be a participant in the Coronado Fourth of July parade due to their acceptance of the Merchant Marine but this year was unique. I felt I had to share the experience with others. The Silvergate chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII has been in many local parades over the past five years I have been its’ president and seldom have we felt so much recognition and patriotism from the spectators.

In other parades I don’t think the spectators really found out who or what the importance of the Merchant Marines was during WWII. Even when we gave a script for announcers to read as we marched past they seldom read the material correctly and they had us as members of the Navy or the Marine Corps or didn’t read the whole script. To my members this was an insult. Because of this action by the announcers and the lack of physical strength of my mariners they had chosen not to participate in parades. Also I believe too many people don’t realize how difficult it is for these elderly men to walk a complete parade route. I have tried many times to inform the public of what these men went through during the war but the newspapers chose not to print it. If we couldn’t get the message of our part in WWII accepted in a parade an article in a newspaper is almost meaningless.

We have always been a small group but due to our advanced age it is even smaller. Most of the men aren’t able to walk the length of a parade. At the last minute I found one member who felt his legs might hold up and would help me carry our banner. Because of all that had happened before in earlier parades it was truly a joy to experience. It was very moving for us to have so many spectators, including men in uniform, get up from where they were sitting and salute or say thank you to our group of four elderly veterans 85 to 90 years of age. It made the two of us that carried our banner the whole mile and a half feel very proud indeed to be so recognized.

When one has witnessed our government choosing not to fully recognize the services of the Merchant Marine during World War II for having delivered over 94% of all the supplies necessary for the success of our country and our allies to win World War II these actions of appreciation and patriotism on the part of parade observers made us feel very proud. We say thank you to all who attended that parade and salute you.

Byron Ayres
President of Silvergate chapter of AMMV