Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Strength and Honor

As I have watched over the years the treatment of our veterans has really pissed me off. My father was a veteran of WWII and served in the Merchant Marine. He served on many Liberty ships during the war bringing supplies to the European front. Now many have little respect for the Merchant Marine saying they served "behind the lines". In reality the Merchant Marine suffered the highest casualty rate of the war.

1 in 26 mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty, suffering a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. Casualties were kept secret during the War to keep information about their success from the enemy and to attract and keep mariners at sea.
Newspapers carried essentially the same story each week: "Two medium-sized Allied ships sunk in the Atlantic." In reality, the average for 1942 was 33 Allied ships sunk each week.

The John W Brown is anchored in Baltimore Maryland and the Jeremiah O'Brien in San Franciso. These two Liberty ships are the only survivors of WWII.

Old pops was quiet and never really talked about the war until he became older. He served on a gas tanker off of Normandy during the invasion of France and refueled allied ships. I found out later in life he served on two Liberty cargo ships which were sunk and himself being plucked from the water twice. Liberty ships were mass produced with many being constructed by Kaiser Shipyards.

 The Kaiser Shipyards were seven major shipbuilding yards located on the United States west coast during World War II. Kaiser ranked 20th among U.S. corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.[1] The shipyards were owned by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, a creation of American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, who established the shipbuilding company around 1939 in order to help meet the construction goals set by the United States Maritime Commission for merchant shipping.
Four of the Kaiser Shipyards were located in Richmond and were called the Richmond Shipyards. Together, these four Kaiser Shipyards produced 747 ships, including many of the famous Liberty ships and Victory ships‍—‌more than any other complex in the United States. Only one of these ships, the SS Red Oak Victory, survives. Kaiser also produced the Casablanca-class escort carriers.
Three other shipyards were located across the Columbia River from each other at Ryan Point in Vancouver, Washington and in the St. Johns area of Portland, Oregon as part of the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation group, and at Swan Island in Portland.[2]
Henry Kaiser was known for developing new methods of ship building, which allowed his yards to outproduce other similar facilities and build 1,490 ships, 27 percent of the total Maritime Commission construction. Kaiser's ships were completed in two-thirds the time and a quarter the cost of the average of all other shipyards. Liberty ships were typically assembled in a little over two weeks, and one in less than five days.[3]
Kaiser Shipyards shut down at the end of the war. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park was dedicated October 25, 2000 on the site of one of the shipyards in Point Richmond.
Now back to the treatment of veterans. I have been to the VA in Lyons NJ and found it to be a half step above a butcher shop. Staffed with foreign born doctors our vets have no connection with these people or shared experiences. I watched a Chinese Doctor bark orders to Vietnam vets with little manners. These are the same Vietnam vets who were killing Chinese soldiers in Vietnam. I could personally see the trauma in their eyes. The VA hires these docs to fuck with our vets I believe. The place was dirty and reminded me of a run down mental institution vs a modern hospital. Unfortunately our vets are viewed as disposable assets vs human beings. Once their function is performed they are discarded. The sacrifice of all vets is not forgotten by me. You deserve better.


Thehawkreturns said...

My neighbour served on armed and unarmed British merchantmen in Atlantic convoys in the war as Chief engineer. He says the Liberty ships regularly disappeared as they were poorly constructed with heavy reliance on welding rather than rivets. He thought more sank due to metal/weld fatigue than through enemy action as he said they disappeared daytime, in fog and at night without explosion or fire and too quickly for distress signals, often with no wolf pack action at all. Chilling.

Anonymous said...

I remember the "Hudson River Fleet". Back in the late 1950's a bunch of us use to drive from North-Eastern New Jersey up Rte-9W to West Point. The Hudson River was filled with WW-II merchant ships filled with surplus grain.


Chief Nose Wetter said...

Due to the low grade steel and modular construction many Liberty ships developed brittle fractures causing catastrophic failure. Many ships were repaired with steel bands welded around the hull for greater strength. They were basically floating death traps.

Jeffery in Alabama said...

I had a great uncle who was in the Merchant Marines. He was killed on his first voyage in February 1945 within in sight of of New York Harbor. He was on a tanker. The newspaper reported that "three ships collided" and all were lost. I'm sure a German U-boat had nothing do do with this.

Lisa Lane said...


Joe Texan said...

I've read Samuel Eliot Morison's "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II" many times, along with numerous other books on the subject (e.g., "Hitler's U-Boat War" volumes) so I understand how heavy the casualties were for the Merchant Marine, as well as how terrible the conditions were in which they had to work on the North Atlantic and Murmansk runs. However, I believe submarine crews and 8th and 15th AF bomber crews suffered higher casualty rates.