Friday, January 4, 2013

SOS for missing Academy Merchant Mariners

  ___   ___   ___       S. O. S.      ___   ___   ___  



By this date 70 years ago 61 cadet midshipmen, cadet officer graduates, and KP graduates had died in World War II. By the time the war ended 149 more would die.
Please call up to find out more about them. The website has been changed to make it more user-friendly!

I ask you to be a partner with the Kings Point team who is striving to have all research completed and in the hands of the publisher by Memorial Day 2013 and to be published and on the street at booksellers by Veterans Day 2013, if not sooner. You can help by first passing this link and message along to your chapter members, and if you have a website place this link on your site (some chapters have done so already). Second, if there are other organizations of veterans or merchant marine organizations in your area, ask them to place this link on their Home Page. We need to generate comments and further info about these men who died in the service of their country.
Thank you and Happy New Year

George J. Ryan, Class of 1957, Chairman
American Maritime History Project
26526 Wolf Road
Bay Village OH 44140

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Guardian Angels of the Merchant Marine in WW II

The U.S. Navy Armed Guard

By Helen Glass

 There is a branch of the Navy that never received much attention and theywell deserve it. The U.S. Navy Armed Guard. I had never heard of theArmed Guard until Charles A. Lloyd, Chairman and Secretary of the USNAG WW2 organization gave me the facts. So I wrote a poem in their honor, to tell their story in poetry form. However, my hat’s off to those WAVES who became an integral part of the Guard. These pioneer women overcame many barriers in the beginning. The Navy had doubts whether the WAVES could substitute for men at the Armed Guard Center. Operations there went round the clock seven days a week. So they felt it was impossible for women to carry out the night assignments, covering the fatigue and modesty. But, after careful consideration, the assignment of WAVES storekeepers began. Then, in February 1944, 36 WAVES of many ratings came aboard followed by many more. They now numbered 418 WAVES in every department except lower deck which was out of bounds to them. And again after a survey of general efficiency by Department Heads, the consensus was that they lacked experience and the necessary physical strength in the Supply Department, that they were incapable of working under pressure. But statistics showed that of the 30 girls who volunteered to work the 1700-0100 shifts, only 3 requested relief in a period of one year. These women who served in the Armed Guard showed them they could do it. The motto of the Armed Guard is “We Aim to Serve” and they did it proudly. I’ve listed some of the names of WAVES who were in the USNAG. I hope some WAVES National members/ White Caps readers will recognize someone and let me know. Ambrosius, Caroline; Anderson, D.L.; Bauer, Mary; Billings, Mabel; Borders, Dorothy; Carpenter, Emma Lee; Carmichael, Marjorie; Coffee, Florence; Farha, Mary; Finger, Nora Ward; Jones, Thelma Frazier; Gustafson, Ellie; Jones, Thelma; Parkinson, Dorothy; Sproles, Sarah; Stark, Virginia; Striffler, Barbara; Taylor, Joyce; Van Dyke, Myrtle; Welch, W. Frances; Witzel, Ruby; Wingo, Josette. I was honored, when in 1985, I received a letter from Josette Wingo from California. The newspaper in Los Angeles had a special edition of their newspaper honoring the 40th anniversary of the ending of WW II. They included my poem “A WAVES Lament”, which tells the story of being a WAVE. Josette said I had done a lot to help make our invisibility known. Josette, a U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate, was the author of “My Mother Was a Gunner’s Mate”, I understand. In my poem “She’s In The Navy Now” I say “She didn’t take the place of a man you see she made her own place in History” and this is true of the women in the U.S. Navy Armed Guard.


 In World War 1 and World War 2
These gallant men were protecting you
Little was known of these brave men in blue
But they had an important job to do.
Men of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard Helped defeat the enemy-hit them hard
They maintained the guns and ammunition too
Protected the ships’ cargo and its crew
Codes and messages, sent and received back then
By highly skilled radio and signalmen
American and Allied Merchant shipping was being attacked
But guns were prohibited by the Neutrality Act.
Many ships were damaged or sunk and many men’s lives battered or lost
The Act was unfair to all concerned
Look what happened, look what it cost
Then things changed for the better
When in November 1941
Armed Guards on merchant ships again “manned the gun.”
“If not for the Merchant Seamen, the war would have been lost by the Allies then”
“It was the U.S. Navy Armed Guard personnel
The Maritime men and ships, brought victory again.”
“A loose lip sinks a ship” was the saying of the Armed Guard
And they took this seriously whether on a vessel or in the shipyard.
The U.S. Navy Armed Guard
Was a dedicated crew of men at sea
Loyal to their country, risking their lives
Fighting for peace and freedom for you and me.
No one group of fighting men can say “They did it alone” ever again.
It takes love and devotion
On every sea and ocean
If there is ever to be
Peace and victory.

By Helen Anderson Rickard Glass
U. S. Navy, WW II – AMM 3/C
Composed June 2012 especially for
Charles A. Lloyd, Chairman
USN Armed Guard Veteran, WW II

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Maritime TV interview by Dave Garby

We are desparately seeking the coastwise merchant seamen who sailed on our coastal waters (Atlantic, Pacific & Gulf) during WW II.  Congressional response is "we must identify more seamen if we expect to have them recognized as veterans via legislation"  We have identified about 1120 seamen of whom about 85 may have been women based on the names entered on the shipping documents discovered.  I had an interview by Mr. Dave Garby of Maritime TV this past month and wish to share with you in hopes of having the word move further out into the community.  Please take the time to review asnd respond. 
Time is running out in this year's session and we need a Senate companion bill to HR 1288, "WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act".  Please contact me if you wish to help up.  My email is

Sunday, August 12, 2012




We are In search of some 10,000 merchant seamen or relatives of those who served on coastwise barges and tugs during WW II and who were NOT recognized as veterans for their services. These seamen include some disabled seamen, women and school age children who served as families during school breaks. Please note: Women were refused the proper credentials for service during WW II and were ordered off the ships as soon as they hit an American port.  During the first part of the war some were KIA, POW, MIA and others critically wounded.  They refused to stay home and many found themselves serving along with families on coastwise barges. These barges carried bulk war materials to defense plants along our coastal ports.   Families serving on barges were a tradition long before this nation was born. Many seamen who served on these coastwise barges and tugs did so without the credentials now required for veteran’s status today.  They did the job, received wages and paid taxes; and worked alongside other seamen holding the proper papers. Today this sort of reaction is known as discrimination and cannot be tolerated. Others had their papers lost. 

We have a bill in Congress, HR 1288 “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act” with 117 cosponsors.  This bill, if enacted into law, will allow for additional documentation to replace documents destroyed or denied by our government to more than 10,000 coastwise merchant seamen; thus offering veteran status.

One of our Senators has stated there is no need to change existing laws because no other veteran has come forth indicating they need help because of this problem. The National Maritime Center cites the Privacy Act when asked for veteran records proving service or otherwise.  We know women and school children have no records and we know other records have been destroyed by government actions. This information is available on my blog,  Due to their age, most seamen have already left us and the few (less than 300 nationally) have little knowledge of their rights to veteran status.  Please remember this is an American issue and not partisan.  We must look beyond Party lines to repay those that stood up for us.  We owe them and I need your help to repay this debt. A Senate companion bill is a must if we are to attain success in this session.

Many of these seamen came from our nation’s coastal cities and we need to reach out to these seamen or families with hopes of finding some documentation to support claims of service. Some 1100 seamen have been identified with about 100 having names usually associated to women; who never had an opportunity to gain their due recognition.  Service ages ranged from 10 years to 79 years.  The current average age is over 90. Very few are left and they are leaving us quite fast.

I also have a petition for signatures requesting our Senators to introduce a companion bill to HR 1288.  For visitors from any state, I can easily enter names of your Senators. I can oblige any request.

Time is of the essence if we are to make this happen in the 112th Congress. We need help in every state to identify these seamen and notifying our Senators that we want them to stand up for these seamen.  I can be reached at 252 336 5553 or email at

J. Don Horton, 104 Riverview Ave, Camden, NC 27921als to served and have never been recognized for their services, in spite of some having been killed in action, taken prisioners of war and others severely wounded while serving our country.
One of our Senators does not believe they exists and will not support legislation to recognize them unless we can come up with more names of those that served from NC. Although this is an American issue, the Senator wants names of North Carolinians who served. The Privacy Act is cited by the USCG deneying me access to their records. Can anyone help? More info at My phone number is 252 336 5553.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scorecard of Supporters of HR 1288 and Senate Companion Bill


SUPPORT FOR HR 1288 “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act and A SENATE COMPANION BILL

US House or Representatives Cosponsors            = 115 to date

NC US House of Representatives Sponsors/Cosponsors   =13 or 100%

US Senate    =0 or 0%     Senators  Kay Hagan and Richard Burr NON RESPONDERS

NC Delegates    = 87 == Senate   = 35; House   = 52

NC County Commissioners Resolution   =57 of 100

NC Democratic Executive Committee Resolution

NC Democratic Women of NC Resolution

NC Democratic Party District Resolutions   =9 of 13

NC Republican Executive Cimmittee Resolutions

NC Republican Party Women of NC Resolution

NCGOP Party Chairman’s Assoc. Resolution

NC Republican Party District Resolutions   = 9 of 13

NC Citizen Petitions:  (signatures in the thousands)

NOTE:  There can be as many as 8 different factions of government representing each county.  (All 100) NC counties have at least (3) factions supporting this resolution.  The average is about (5) factions representing each county.  A VAST MAJORITY OF OUR CITIZENS WANT TO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION VIA HR 1288 AND A COMPANION BILL IN THE SENATE.

We need support from our US Senators from all states.  Please call, write, or email them and request they introduce a companion bill to HR 1288, else this will all soon be history.  Contact me for petitions with your Senator's name at 252 336 5553 or email me at this loccation .

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NC Senators Not Giving Merchant Seamen Their Due

What is wrong with this scenario?  We have a national movement ongoing to help some 10 to 30 thousand Coastwise Merchant Seamen who worked on barges and tugs during WW II.  Their job was to transport bulk war materials to our coastal defense plants on all three coasts, the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts.  The barges were very old and had lived long past their life span, being built around the 1900s. The life span of a wooden barge was about 25 years. They were mostly of wood construction and time had taken its toll many years before. Most had been sent to the “bone” yards or sand bars around the various inland waterways.  There were three put on a mud bank right here in Elizabeth City.  One of them (Barge Tuckahoe) where 6 members of my family worked aboard during WW II and before she was sent to the boneyard to rot away and leaving parts of her frame still visible just above the waterline.

With the German U-boats sinking our ships faster than could be built during the first phase of WW II, our government recognized we could not keep our troops supplied with the limited ship building at the first of the war and dramatic measures had to be taken.  In the first 13 months of WW II the German Wolf Packs sank 386 ships laden with the much needed war materials for the troops overseas necessary to keep the enemy at bay.  This was never mentioned in the newspapers by order of the US Government.

These old wooden hulled barges were pulled from the mud banks and bone yards and pressed into service with only very limited maintenance to assure they stayed afloat long enough to keep our defense plants stocked with the bulk materials necessary to produce the required materials and equipment necessary to fight that war and keep enemy away for our shores.  These barges were manned generally with older seamen who had already spent their youth aboard them before they were place out of service.  The conditions were very primitive and most abled bodied seaman steered clear of them in favor of more modern vessels.  Most barges had no running water, no electricity, no bathroom facilities, illumination was from kerosene lamps and heat came from either the coal fired cook stove or a small coal stove located in the crew quarters.  They were a far cry from our modern day vessels.

In addition to the elderly and often handicapped seamen, many were crewed by families that in the summer time included school children and the wives of the Captain.  That was the case of my family. Having the barges crewed by family’s dates back before our nation ever began; the use of the elderly and handicapped, women and school children may have been by the direction of our then president.

President Franklin Roosevelt, in his fireside speech No. 23 to the nation on 12 Oct. 1942, stated, “In order to keep stepping up our production, we have to add millions of workers to the total work force of the Nation.  This presents a formidable problem in the mobilization of manpower.  In order to do this, we shall be compelled to use older men, and handicapped people, and more women and even grown boys and girls, wherever possible and reasonable, to replace men of military age and fitness; to enable our high school students to take some time from their school year, (and) to use their summer vacations, to work somewhere in the war industries. It does mean giving older student a better opportunity to contribute their bit to the war effort”

“In some communities, employers dislike to employ women.  In others they are reluctant to hire Negroes.  In still other, older men are not wanted.  We can no longer afford to indulge such practices or prejudices.”  This speech established the nation’s plan of action and indicates we can no longer indulge such prejudices or practices; and puts in place the use of elderly and handicapped individuals, school children and women in an effort to support our war efforts.

Not until 1988 and after a 10 year court battle did the US Merchant Marine seamen gain veteran status.  Yet only about 90,000 out of 250,000 of the mariners have become veterans. This was 46 years after the war began.  New research has revealed that many of the coastwise mariners cannot gain this most prestigious recognition as a veteran because of specific Government actions that took place long before the courts finally recognized these seamen as veterans.  Factual government documents attest to the destruction of specific documents that the National Maritime Center now required in proving service to gain their veteran status.  Another action directed by the War Shipping Administrator in 1942 whereby Admiral S. Land issued orders that no women were to serve in the Merchant Marine as this was a moral problem.  Yet they served without the proper credentials identifying them a certified Merchant Marine.  Some were killed inaction and others were taken prisoners of war.  They earned some of the Maritime’s highest honors but were denied their Merchant Marine credentials.  School children served during school breaks and drew wages and paid Social Security taxes.  They served alongside other seamen who were properly credentials but they were also denied their proper credentials.

Women, handicapped elders and school children have served in all ways in every war since the Revolutionary War and no one has ever questioned their service until our US Coast Guard has now taken it upon them to determine who is granted veteran status and who will be denied for their services during WW II as merchant seamen.  Today this is called discriminated and is not tolerated.

We must take it upon ourselfs to rectify this travesty of not recognizing our brave elderly handicapped, our women and our school children who stood up to help this nation in our time of need. They played a very significant role in getting the bulk war materials to the defense plants where that material was turned into the fighting equipment and materials that was necessary for our troops to keep our land free of the enemy.  Without the bulk raw materials essential to produce the materials for our fighting force, this country would have been in dire straits.  Our freedom we now take for granted may not have been.

With a great deal of effort we have been successful in gaining the support of the House of Representatives in introducing a Bill in the House, HR 1288 “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act”.  We have 115 Cosponsors led by Representatives G. K. Butterfield, Walter Jones, Mike McIntyre and Jeff Fortenberry who introduced this bill on Mar. 31, 2012.  We now have all 13 of the Representatives from the North Carolina House and 102 from other States.

This bill is supported by all 100 counties of North Carolina by one or another faction of county government or party affiliation and including about 100 of our State Governments delegation, plus many letters from other government officials and thousands of signatures on petitions from citizens who are the constituents of our elected officials.

With that picture in mind you would think our elected officials would understand that the citizens of North Carolina believe in what our veterans have sacrificed to keep this nation free and believe we need to keep our word to these veterans that they will be given their due right to be recognized for their service.

No so for our two Senators, Hagan and Burr.  Both have turned their backs on our veterans and will not support companion legislation in the Senate.  Senator Hagan has stated to their Democratic Party Chief, David Parker that she was NOT going to do anything for these veterans until the bill leaves the House and comes to the Senate.  This effectively puts the kiss of death on this bill as most bills never leave the House sub-committees and die within.  She has hedged her bet so to speak by using this ploy and that effectively keeps her from taking any action on most of the bills her constituents have asked action be taken on.  She is hiding behind a cloak of deceit.  Most of our citizens are unaware of this movement that gives the illusion that she is helping our citizens, but knowing full well she has to do nothing on the greater majority of the bill because they will just disappear when the Congressional session closes.  Yet with the effect of a companion bill to run simultaneously with the House bill, the chances of a bill to be approved and made into law increases dramatically.

Senator Burr on the other hand has relied on erroneous information whenever he addresses a request to introduce a companion bill to HR 1288 or his answers reflect information on a completely different bill in congress in spite of repeated letters/emails apprising him of his erroneous assertions.  For instance an email from his staff states the Senator’s position on my request to have a companion bill to HR 1288 was unwarranted because the Senator believes that the vast majority of the WW II merchant seamen have received recognition as veterans and he sees no need to change the way they are reviewing applications for recognition.  The truth is, according to the USCG, only about 90,000 seamen have been recognized as veterans.  The number of seamen who served during WW II has a vast range of 250,000 to 415,000 not including the 10 to 30 thousand seamen I have found.  None of the 3 major historians from which the numbers derived from have indicated to me that they never knew of the coastwise seamen and were not included in their estimate of seamen served.  As you can see there is no vast majority in any of these figures for Sen. Burr to state his case.  He simply relied on his staff that has passed erroneous to him and not taken the advice of his constituents to review actual facts and data passed to him on several occasions.  In fact, he stopped me form questioning him on an occasion during a visit to Disabled American Veterans meeting where he was a guest. When I raised the question, he indicated he sent me a 3 page letter explaining his position and when I attempted to tell him he has not sent me anything, he stated if I was not satisfied with that letter to call his office and give them my reasons for my objection and that this meeting was not the place for that sort of disagreement.  I understand this is his procedure when challenged with an unfavorable issue.

North Carolina has lined up behind this movement to have our coastwise merchant seamen, including those without credentials, to have them recognized as veterans.  This request has come from all factions of our state government, party affiliations and the citizens themselves, representing all of the state and that includes all 13 Members of the US House from NC.  Yet the 2 Senators from this state have turned their backs on our veterans.  What is wrong with this scenario?  We must either get the Senators to turn about or we have to turn them out as they are not representative of what our citizens want and demand from our elected officials.

J. Don Horton, 104 Riverview Ave, Camden, NC 27921 Ph. 252 336 5553

Saturday, March 3, 2012


31 March, 1942

One of the least known accountings of World War II is the story of the seamen who served in the United States Merchant Marine. With their essential cargoes, our nation's ships became primary targets of German U-boats and Japanese Kamikaze aircraft attacks. Thousands of seamen were killed or wounded, and over 900 ships were sunk. Nearly 10,000 seamen lost their lives and most are resting in Davy Jones’ Locker. Losses of men and ships were so high newspapers were ordered not to report casualty rates in fear that our young men would steer clear of our ships creating a shortage of volunteers and preventing the enemy from knowing their success. Their casualty ratio was higher than any other service. One in twenty-six made the supreme sacrifice.

During WWII the Merchant Marines played a critical role in aiding the US and her Allies. Had these ships not been productive and carried the load, the war would have been in all likelihood prolonged many months, if not years. Some argue the Allies would have lost without the assistance of the Merchant Marines and the means to carry the personnel, supplies, and equipment needed by the combined Allies to defeat the Axis powers.

It is not known why so many Americans have never heard the stories of their courage and the critical role these seamen played in the victory of World War II. Along our Atlantic Seaboard it was a virtual shooting gallery for those German Submarine Wolf Packs. They were sinking our ships faster than we could build them. There was an even lesser known group of seamen (Some 30,000) who served on very primitive, outdated and unarmed coastwise tugs and barges. They carried bulk war materials to the defense plants that produced the finished products used in the fighting and defense of our country on the three fronts overseas and keeping our shores free of the enemy.

It is time, however, to tell one story of heroism of the rescue of three merchant seamen and make this accounting public for all to know. It took place close by just a few miles off the coast of Virginia and concluded at the coastal town of Lewes, Delaware.

The steam tug Menominee was built in 1919 at the Northwestern Engineering Works, Green Bay, WI for the Southern Transportation Company and was home ported at Philadelphia, PA. At 441 tons, and built sturdy, she set deep in the water and pulled a load of four barges easily through most rough seas. On 30 March, 1942, the tug Menominee, with her tow of three barges, Alleghany, Barnegat, and the Ontario set out from Hampton Roads, Virginia at about 12:30 PM bound for New York City and Stamford, CT. The state of the weather was overcast, and the sea choppy with winds at 15 MPH from ESE. The visibility was poor and there was a light mist. At about 0230 the following morning the German U-boat 754 commenced the shelling of the tug and barges that led to the sinking of the tug and two barges. All hands from the barges made it to their life boats and were all rescued by the USCGC 4063 later that morning.

Not so for the men of the Menominee. The tug cut loose the barges and made for the shore line at full speed, but the German sub, moving much faster, caught up with the tug. Seeing the certain end of his tug, the captain ordered the engines stopped and gave the order to abandon ship. They were able to drop two life rafts in hopes the German U-boat captain would recognize an act of surrender. The German sub kept coming and continuing to fire their guns without regard for the lives of the seamen. Soon the tug exploded but not before at least seven men was able to clear the explosion and reach one of the rafts, according to the classified report of the sinking.

Only a few months before, three young men (Julius Todd, Sam Price, and Aaron Varn) decided to make the US Merchant Marine a career and they all started it at the Saint Petersburg Maritime Training School. There they met for the first time and developed a friendship that has lasted for more than 70 years. A feat that has rarely ever seen accomplished. To this day the three of them still remain close friends. Shortly after their completion of training they were assigned additional training aboard the merchant training ship American Seamen to get the feel of a real ship. Upon completion of that short introduction they were sent to New York City, NY to the Seamen’s Union Hall on South Street to wait for an assignment. After a week of sitting around the union hall an offer of a slot came open for some engine room wipers (apprentice engine room seamen) from three companies, the Sun Oil Company, Socony Oil and the Atlantic Refinery. Amazingly they all three choose the Sun Oil Company.

Their orders read to report to Marcus Hook, PA to pick up the MS Northern Sun right away. The Northern Sun was built in 1931 for the Sun Oil Company at yard No. 131 in Chester, PA and was also home ported in Philadelphia, PA. At 8865 tons, she was a prime target for the German U-boat Wolf packs right there along that part of the Atlantic Coast commonly known as torpedo junction. A requirement aboard all seagoing vessels is to assign a lifeboat station to every person aboard in case of trouble and a sinking would occur. Being newbies to the sea, it was also customary to assign the new ones together with more seasoned seamen; each was assigned different lifeboats. The ship left right away for a port in Texas believed to be Galveston. There appeared to have been no problems navigating the sub infested waters going to Texas, but that was not the case on the way back.

The Northern Sun was steaming toward New York on the morning of the 31st of March when about 0800, she came upon the carnage caused by the German U-boat 754. Knowing the area still was being patrolled by other German U-boats, they stopped anyway and lowered a lifeboat immediately and set out toward the survivors on a single life raft. Julius Todd was assigned this lifeboat with the responsibility of keeping the engine going. That wasn’t to be because the engine would not cooperate and they had to result to using the oars. Julius was pulling for all his worth on his oar in an attempt to get to the survivors as fast as possible. In fact he was pulling so hard the oar broke from his putting his all in that effort. When the lifeboat neared the life raft, Julius reached down to grab one of the Menominee crew from the water, but was unable to do so. “The young boy had his fingers entwined around a wooden crate and clasped together and I had to pry his fingers loose before I could pull him aboard the lifeboat”, Julius reported. Two others were on the raft, the Captain and the Chief Engineer. They quickly jumped aboard the lifeboat. According to the classified report the captain stated that the others slipped off into the night, probably from exposure. A total of 15 of 18 were lost that night but Julius Todd saved one from a watery grave in Davy Jones’ Locker. The young one was brought home to his family and given a proper burial in a new family plot. He had been identified as William Lee Horton, Jr. age, 17 who had just signed on as Able Seamen on 29 Mar, 1942, just a little over 2 days before.

They brought the survivors back to the Northern Sun about amidships and proceeded to bring the young one aboard. Aboard ship the other friends were observing from their assigned position and watched as they brought young Horton aboard. Sam Price remembers that “they tried to work on the young one to get the water out of him and then wrapped him in blankets. After a while they took him to first aid (sick bay)” and Sam says he never saw him again, but, he was alive while on deck.

Aaron Varn from his position at the other end of the ship was able to only observe the operation. But, he was able to take a picture of the landing of the lifeboat alongside. These three seamen are the only known seamen alive who served aboard the MS Northern Sun during that rescue.

The Northern Sun got back underway and when she came abeam Brown Shoals she passed the two survivors and the body of young Horton to the USCGC 4345 for delivery to Lewes, Delaware. Later it was determined that he died of broken bones to the neck and a severed spinal cord. The Sun continued on to New York to off load their cargo of fuel.

Once the Sun reached New York and off loaded her cargo, all aboard were issued a discharge. By law every seamen receives a discharge whenever they arrived in a US port. Those who wished to ship over for another trip did so. The others were free to go ashore and seek another ship within the next thirty days or risk being drafted if they were within the draft age criteria. All three friends shipped over and this truly began a strong solid friendship that spanned over 70 years. After a few more trips together, they separated but continued their career aboard other vessels, some with other companies. Their friendship just grew stronger each year and is still very much alive and active.

Julius Todd was the only one of the three that remained with Sun Oil Company and retired after 46 years of loyal and trustworthy service. Born in Conway, SC of sharecropper parents who had eight children and the elder of the boys, Julius worked at several jobs before moving to Charleston. SC to live with his Grandmother for a short time before he decided to enroll in the Merchant Marine Training School in St. Petersburg, FL. He started his career with Sun Oil Company as a wiper and gained his Chief Engineer’s license before his retirement. Just a few years in his career (1946) and his ships docking frequently at Marcus Hook, PA, he would visit a little drug store over in Chester, PA, where a young and very pretty girl caught his eye and to be sure he was remembered, he would always leave a silver dollar as a tip. Her name was Emilie Mildred and on October 23, 1948 she became his bride. Another amazing coincidence was Julius and Sam Price was seeing two girls at the same drug store. Julius married Mildred and Sam married Eva some 42 years later and after his first wife had sadly passed away.

Julius and Mildred started their life together in Chester, PA and lived there until 1952 when they relocated their family to Wilmington, DE which is still called home. Julius and Emile produced two daughters, Barbara and Debrann from this marriage and now these lovely ladies are returning their care to Julius since losing his dear wife who he was so blessed to have shared lives for almost sixty years. Mildred passed away on 31 January, 2008.

After retiring from Sun Oil, he was frequently called upon to repair vehicles for family and friends and would occasionally loan himself out as a handyman to those less fortunate, to repair and install anything with an engine. “Once an engineman always an engineman”, he would say.

There are no records that indicate the he or any other of the crew of the Northern Sun were ever recognized for their heroic rescue of three seamen from the bowels of the Atlantic in an area that was well known for the preying German U-boats ready and very willing to put a large tanker loaded with fuel to the bottom of the sea. Sad to say that nowadays whenever someone who goes missing or rescues another, it is all over the news and television, yet, during that timeframe the likes of a dramatic and heroic rescue drew little or no attention. What a shame this is. We owe them and the debt should be paid. Mr. Todd currently resides at 1403 Marsh St., Wilmington, De 19803

Sam Price’s story in his own words: I was born on a farm in Ripley County Indiana on August 15, 1920. Our family lived in Covington, Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio. My Mom was visiting her sister who lived in Indiana. I suppose Mom stayed too long because I was born there.

Dad was a Locomotive Engineer on the L & N Railroad. The great depression came and many people lost their jobs, Dad was one of them. Our family moved to Florida and landed in the land of Strawberry and Vegetable farms. It was 1931 and I was 11 years old. I worked on the farm until 1941. (Note: This farm was owned by Aaron Varn’s mother, but this was not known between the two at that time)

In July of 1941, I saw an ad in the newspaper that the U.S. Merchant in Marine wanted men to enroll at the Merchant Marine Training School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dad took me to the Bus Station in Tampa. I took the bus to St. Petersburg and was admitted to the school. We learned all about ships, we were there for about 4 months. I arrived at the school July I enlisted in the U.S. Naval reserves. I was never called for active duty and was discharged on August 14, 1944.

We were sent from school to Baltimore, MD to join the Merchant Marine Training Ship, the SS American Seaman. We were given the choice of the Engine Department, the Deck or the Stewards Department. Aaron, Julius, Jimmy and I all became lifelong friends. Sadly Jimmy passed away about 5 years ago.

We learned about boilers, main engines, and auxiliary equipment while on the ship. We were on the American Seaman about 3 months and then were sent to the Seaman’s Church Institute @25 South Street New York, N.Y. to wait for a job.

We had Wiper Papers (cleaning) at that time at that time. After 2 weeks we were given the choice of working for one of three Oil Co., Socony The Sun Oil Co. and the Atlantic Refining Co., all 4 of us friends chose to work for The Sun Oil Co. in Marcus Hook, PA.

Arriving in Marcus Hook we boarded the MS Northern Sun as wipers. The ship was running coast wise from Marcus Hook to Texas and back to Marcus Hook or a port in New Jersey. While on the Northern Sun we made a trip across the North Atlantic Ocean, in convoy and down to Liverpool, England. Several ships in the convoy were torpedoed and sunk by the German U Boats.

Even on the coastwise runs it was not uncommon to see the smoke from torpedoed burning ships. Coming North in 1942 some Survivors were spotted off the Coast of Virginia. A life boat was lowered in the sea and the crew rowed out and put 3 men in the lifeboat and brought them back to the ship. Two of the men were in pretty good condition, but the third one was a very young boy 17 years of age, he was barely alive. The men did everything they could for him but he passed away. I believe a Coast Guard boat took them off the ship.

While on the Northern Sun we came into Marcus Hook quite often. Not far from Marcus Hook was a town named Chester. Aaron, my friend and I went to a Carnival in Chester and I met a beautiful polish girl, Eva Wintarlik was her name she was 17. Eva worked in a Drug Store in Chester, PA. Whenever we were in Marcus Hook I would go to the Drug Store and Eva and I would walk around, talk and go to a movie. She was a delightful girl to be with.

Aaron and I were on the Northern Sun for about 3 months as a wiper when the Chief gave us a letter of recommendation and we went to Customs House in Philadelphia and passed our exam and received Oiler, Fireman and Water Tender endorsements. We were promoted to Oilers on the ship; we were on the Northern Sun for about 13 months we went home and we both got married.

Aaron married Cecile Cooper on April 10th 1943; I married Virginia Olive on April 26th 1943. Virginia was 17 and I was 22. We had 3 Boys, Samuel T. Jr., Geoffrey E. and Larry Stephen. At this time 2/13/2012 Samuel Jr. is 65, Geoffrey is 63 and Steven is 61. I am 91 years old.

Sun Oil Co. sent Aaron and me to California to board the Western Sun which was due to come into San Diego. We stayed in California in a hotel about 2 weeks while the ship was in the ship yard. We made several crossings of the Pacific Ocean hauling fuel oil to the troops and for the Navy Ships. We were stationed in Epirito Santos in the New Hebredes Islands about 6 months as a refueling ship for the Navy Ships. Loaded Tanker Ships would come in and pump their cargo into our ship and we pumped the fuel into the Navy ships. We came back to Marcus Hook in June of 1944. We had been out 11 months and 25 days. Aaron and I went home together as our families lived not too far apart.

While I was home I read in the newspaper the Merchant Marine wanted qualified men to enroll in the Officers’ Training School in Fort Trumbull in New London Conn. I enrolled and we were taught the engine room, equipment which included boilers, main engines (both turbines and reciprocating), diesel engines, auxiliary pumps, generators etc. After 4 months I passed the exam and received a 3rd Assistant Engineers License for Steam and Diesel Ships. I went back to Sun Oil Co. and boarded the SS Delaware Sun; I stayed on about 6 months, when I got off, the ship went into the ship yard. I returned home and went to Tampa and joined the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, (MEBA) Union.

I was sent to Galveston, Texas to board the Liberty Ship SS John W. Gates. We went across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea to Constanta Romanic. I returned home the war was over and I received my discharge. I sailed several ships for different companies until 1947. I took the 2nd Assistant Engineers exam and got my 2nd Assistant Engineers License. I sailed more ships until 1953.

My boys were growing and 2 were in school. I then took and passed an exam for a City of Tampa Stationary Engineers License. I worked for a large Department Store in Tampa in July 1953 and worked there for 131/2 years until February 1967. The boys were ready to go to college. I told Virginia, my wife, that I was not making enough money to send the boys to college and that I was going back to sea again.

I signed on the AMARILLO Victory as 2nd Assistant Engineer and we were hauling ammo to Vietnam. I took a Merchant Marine Engineers Book with me and studied at sea. We were out 6 months when I got home I went to Tampa and took and passed the exam for 1st Assistant Engineer. We were out to sea for 6 more months and when I got home I went to Tampa and passed the exam for the Chief Engineer License. After that I sailed other ships sometimes as Chief Engineer and sometimes as 1st Assistant until 1972.

In 1972, I took a 1st Assistants job on a C2 Ship named the Azalia City with Sealand Service Co. I worked for Sealand for 10 years, sometimes as Chief Engineer and other times, 1st Assistant Engineer.

In 1973 young Samuel was at the University of Colorado. Virginia went out to Colorado to see young Sam. When I came back for my vacation, Virginia said she wanted to move to Colorado. I said ok so we went to Colorado and found a place up in the mountains about 100 miles west of Colorado Springs. Went home and sold our house and moved to Colorado. Virginia got sick in the fall of 1981. Virginia knew that she was not going to live long and she asked me what I was going to do with her. I told her I would take her back to Florida and lay her to rest in the cemetery where her Mother, Father, Brother and Sister were buried. That is what I did, the Lord called Virginia home on April 21st 1982, 5 days before our 39th Wedding Anniversary she was 56 years old. I retired at that time.

I bought a Junk Yard and moved everything to our place, I had plenty of room, I was lonesome and to occupy my time. I worked on some old antique cars. With the help of a Machine Shop, Paint Shop, and anyone else who wanted to help us we restored 7 Antique Cars.

The 4 of us, who started out together in 1941, namely Aaron Varn, Julius Todd, Jimmy Samuels and I had a reunion in the fall of 1984 at Aaron’s place in Ruskin, Florida. At this time Aaron and Jimmy Samuels still lived in Florida. I was still living in Colorado and Julius Todd & his wife Mildred were living in Wilmington, De. While at the reunion Mildred told me that Eva the girl I knew in 1942 was a widow. After going back home to Colorado I thought about getting in touch with Eva, not knowing where she lived I wrote her a letter sealed it and put it in a large envelope and mailed it to Mildred Todd asking her if she could get it to Eva since they lived close to each other. In my letter I asked Eva if I could come and see her. Eva called me and said yes but she was leaving on a trip to Italy and Israel in about 2 weeks. I came over and met her again; there she was almost 60 years old and gorgeous. I had not seen her for 42 years and she was as beautiful as she was then. We were walking on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City holding her hand at 64 and I felt young again. I asked Eva if she would marry me and she said yes, we were married on June 10, 1985 she came to Colorado to live. Being that we had no close family we moved to Middletown, DE in 1991. Eva has 3 lovely daughters, Mary Anna, young Eva and Jean. Sadly the Lord called Eva home on July 13, 2011 she was 86 years old. We were married happily for just over 26 years. So I am alone again at 91 and I miss her so much. I live alone, but Eva’s daughter Jeanie and her husband Wayne look after me now and take good care of me. I am fortunate in having 2 real live Guardian Angles watching over me. Sam Price lives at 222 Sugar Pine Drive, Middletown, DE 19709.

Aaron Varn started his career with the Merchant Marine by sending a penny postcard to the U.S. Maritime Service’s St. Petersburg Training Center, Florida in 1941 and stayed with the MM for 18 years. During his time in the training center he met his lifelong friends, Sam Price and Julius Todd. After leaving the training center and ship they were assigned to the Northern Sun where he spent the next 13 months before moving to the Western Sun with his buddies. Earlier in his career he married his high school sweetheart and they are still together. Varn continued to sail until 1959. A maritime career that spanned two wars plus, that included attaining the rating of Deck Engineer. Leaving the sea, he went to work on the railroad as a fireman and rising to the rank of locomotive Engineer for CSX before retiring in 1984 in Ruskin, FL close to their 2 children and grandchildren.

Every so often three of the friends still get together and tell some sea stories many would be glad to listen in on. All could learn a lesson about lasting friendships and the values learned. Rarely does one hear of friendships lasting for such a long time (over 70 years) and rarely does a few friends last nearly this long. This makes one wonder if we still have the values of the greatest generation. Mr. Varn currently resides at 1618 6th Street, Ruskin, FL 33570.

The saving of the young one (Horton) from the tug Menominee lead to a research that discovered that there may be as many as 30,000 coastwise seamen who sailed on those tugs and barges. Many of the crew on the barges were made up of families during the summer months between school breaks. There were many elderly and handicapped seamen long past the draft age that served also. Women were never given recognition for their services. These seamen sailed on the same waters as other seamen who had proper credentials, yet they were denied both credentials and recognition. They were paid wages and taxes were withheld but they cannot gain recognition because they sailed without credentials now required for service. During WW II orders were given to relieve the masters of the tugs and coastwise barges from issuing the shipping/discharge documents that are now required to prove service. In the 1970s another government order was given to destroy the ship’s logbooks because they were too costly to maintain and store. These coastwise seamen served but are not recognized for their services. When we refuse to recognize an individual for the services they perform for this country due to disability, age or gender, this is discrimination and should not be tolerated. We need to correct this mistake.

World War II brought about the advent of women in the military and again they proved themselves. They earned some of our country’s highest honors for their service. Another group of women served and have never been recognized. The women who served in the US Merchant Marine in WW II were denied their Official Mariner’s credentials and were unable to achieve what they most gallantly earned, veteran status. Those who hold this status perceive it as one of their most revered possessions.

At the outset of WW II, women served on some passenger ships as stewardesses. They made a mark in the record books with their short lived services. Some served heroically as their vessels were torpedoed. They cared for the wounded and stayed with the ship, leaving only at the very last moments. The history books reveal that at least 4 of these stewardesses were taken POW after the sinking of their ships. At least one was awarded the Merchant Marine Combat Medal. Yet they were removed from their ships just as soon as the ship entered a US port. This was against stern opposition from the women who tried in vain to stay with the ships. It wasn’t to be. The USCG had decreed that no women would serve aboard the merchant ships of the US. They would not issue official USCG Credentials depicting Merchant Marine seamen status. That did not stop them from serving. They served and should be recognized for it.

The last survivor of WW I have just left us, closing that book regarding any living proof of existence. And the veterans of WW II are leaving us at a rate of about 1000 per day and according to the Veterans Administration, by the year 2020 all will have left us. It is estimated that from the original 30,000 coastwise seamen, there may be about 300 remaining and they will be soon gone. Action must be taken to identify the remaining and let them know this country has not forgotten them and we will make it right by conferring veteran status upon them.

Even less is known of the coastwise merchant seamen and the work they performed. All of the vessels are long gone and the companies have been out of business for far too many years to find any significant information to be useful to assist in gaining recognition for these seamen. All that is left are recollections from the seamen themselves and if they cannot be located, then they have served this nation for naught. All effort must be made to help find them and retrieve their information for our future generations to know and understand how close this country came to being a nation not knowing or understanding the freedom we now take for granted. Our members of congress must take the necessary action to correct this travesty. We must do so before it all becomes history, which shortly that will be the case.
A bill HR 1288, “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act” is being considered in the House with 105 cosponsors. We must do the same in the Senate with a companion bill if we are to make this happen while any are still with us. We need our Senators to stand up as our US Representatives have done so.

If anyone who reads this know of others who served on the Northers Sun, please contact me atJ. Don Horton @ 104 Riverview Ave in Camden, NC 27921 or call at 252 336 5553.