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As members of Congress return home for the July 4 recess, delegates to Port Maritime Councils and their affiliates around the United States are urged to contact their elected representatives to secure additional support for HR 550, the bipartisan Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019.

“These brave mariners are genuine heroes,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco. “We have fought for their recognition for decades. They deserve this ultimate respect.”

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), the measure’s sponsor, announced in late June that the legislation already has 290 cosponsors. This means HR 550 qualifies for a mandatory vote in the House of Representatives.

“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,” Garamendi said.

“An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives, and another 12,000 were wounded, to make sure our service members could keep fighting, Yet, these mariners who put their lives on the line were not even given veterans status until 1988,” the congressman added.

“The time has come for our nation to provide a well-deserved thank you and honor the remaining Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II with a Congressional Gold Medal. I urge Congress to support this important bill and recognize the dwindling group of merchant marine veterans from World War II that served our nation so admirably,” declared Christian Yuhas, the vice president of the American Merchant Marine Veterans.

Joining Garamendi as original cosponsors of HR 550 were U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Susan Brooks (R-IN). A similar bill is before the Senate, having been introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).