House Passes Measure to Award Merchant Marines Gold Medal

Now awaits Senate action, which will have to wait till next year

 Rep. Janice Hahn, D-California, led efforts to draft a policy awarding World War II merchant mariners a $25,000 payout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House passed a bipartisan measure on Wednesday to award World War II Merchant Marines the Congressional Gold Medal. 

More than 250,000 mariners were pressed into service in 1942 to ferry troops and supplies across submarine-infested seas to battle zones. Around 9,000 were killed in the war.

Roughly 5,000 of the mariners are still alive and several expressed their gratitude over the House effort, FoxNews reported.  

“We’re always working for some recognition,” former merchant mariner Morris Harvey told FoxNews.com Wednesday night.

Harvey expressed concern the award would not pass in the Senate during this session, but said he is hoping to receive the award next year along with financial compensation outgoing California Rep. Janice Hahn has attempted to secure for the mariners. 

The financial plan would give those who served during the war one payment of $25,000. 

“These men put their lives on the line in defense of their country during one of the darkest periods of human history,” Hahn said Wednesday. “For decades, their service went unrecognized, and many of them died without the appreciation they deserved. In awarding these men the Congressional Gold Medal, we may finally express to them our gratitude as a nation for their incredible sacrifices.”

Congress passed legislation Wednesday to award World War II spies who served behind enemy lines the Congressional Gold Medal, the Associated Press reported. 

The legislation was sent to President Barack Obama, and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the bill’s Senate sponsor, encouraged Obama to sign it quickly.

“From establishing intelligence networks deep behind enemy lines to bolstering resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia, these intelligence officers played a critical role in securing the Allied victory,” he said.

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