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United States/Covers & Postmarks : US Merchant Marine Show cover

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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 8,000+ new covers coming November 7
18 Oct 2014
03:41:27pm
I know there are some of you who will enjoy this cover:

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Roy

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179
19 Oct 2014
01:12:54am
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

My father was a Merchant Marine. I'm very happy that he was recognized for his service during WWII, but I wonder how many civilian contractors, doing equally hazardous duty in support of our troops, are all but forgotten.

My father wasn't a hero because he carried a gun. My father was a hero because he worked in the boiler room of an unarmed ship sailing the U-Boat infested Atlantic with food, guns, and ammunition for the soldiers that pushed fascism out of Europe. And when they were done there, they went to the Pacific because there was more work to do.

My father told me many stories about his time in the Atlantic. Many vivid, colorful stories, like the air-raid in Italy that sank most of the convoy, and how they poured concrete in the bow of the ship for the dreaded Murmansk Run to Russia. He even told me about the ship next to them, torpedoed by a U-Boat, had men in the water calling for help, but the Captain of his ship would not stop to pick them up for fear of being torpedoed themselves. He said their fading cries for help haunted him for years. He knew intellectually that it was the right call, but emotionally he seemed to always struggle with that. It's the ONLY time I ever saw my father cry.

But with all those stories about the Atlantic, he refused to talk about his time in the Pacific. Ever. I don't know if it was a bad experience or if he was influenced by the nature of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He didn't want to talk about it and I respected that, but sadly I will now never know. I did ask him once (when I was a teenager) if he ever had to kill anyone in the war. The way he didn't answer the question told me not to ever ask it again.

Sorry for the long story, but my father is responsible for one more thing: He is the primary philatelist in our family! Yup, I got the bug from a guy that lied about his age to join the Merchant Marines after being turned down by the Navy for being under-age. My father was 16 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, so instead of waiting until he was 18 to join the service, he lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marines.

I can't help but wonder how many other teenagers are at the bottom of the Atlantic and Pacific because they did what they knew was right.

I raise a TOAST to all the brave men and women that fight for our freedom, past and present.

Lars

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
19 Oct 2014
11:47:59am
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

I also wish your dad had been more loquacious about his adventures during those very troubling and dangerous times. I have the same problem with my father and both grandfathers.
They seldom sat down with my brothers or me and just chatted about growing up at the turn of the century or during the Great Depression, never mind during WW I or WW II.

But here are two facts about the US Merchant Marine that illustrate how the men lived and died.
First, statistically, a young man who chose to sail on Merchant ships between 1939 and 1945, the war years, stood a fifty percent better chance of dying due to enemy action than his brother who bravely enlisted in the US Marine Corps, despite the carnage we see so often portrayed in movies about the island by island invasions across the Pacific. Sailors on essentially unarmed merchant vessels, and even those with Armed Guard Reservists aboard, died at a rate of one out of about every 24 men (or boys). Young men (And also boys) who served in the USMC died at a rate of about one in thirty three.

Second, Merchant Marine Veterans received no Veteran's benefits, medals or recognition by Congress after the war until about 1986, forty years later, by which time most of them had crossed the bar and were buried.

You might enjoy reading one or both of these articles, Lars, as they do relate to the US Merchant vessels and recognition.

October 1941

Merchant Marine stamps

The first is appropriate as it relates to convoys and the sinking of the Reuban James as it's anniversary approaches (October 30, 1941)

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Stampme
29 Oct 2014
05:49:52pm
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

I'm not sure what causes this circumstance, but I have brought up WWII with questions to veterans, while shocked family members expected either stony silence or a rebuke. Instead, the vets opened up and told some hair raising experiences they lived through during combat. I was able to keep the conversation going with WWII references pertinent to their particular situations. Later the family members told me, their relative never spoke about WWII to any of them. Maybe I brought up the topic at the right moment. I value those conversations though.
Bruce

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Bobstamp
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29 Oct 2014
06:40:29pm
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

I think that various factors are at play in the silence of veterans:

• Trauma — the experiences of many combat veterans are so horrible that they are unable to talk about them, or possibly even think about them, except perhaps with other combat veterans. If they have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (and current understanding is that many more vets develop PTSD than was thought previously), some memories may not even be accessible. Some 18 years after I was in Vietnam, I had a flashback — the sudden memory of one of the worst incidents of my life — that pretty much unhinged me. Even today, I cannot talk about it without tears.

And there is this: The symptoms of PTSD include depression, anxiety, insomnia, hyperalertness (always looking for danger); avoidance of memories, people, and situations; intrusive memories, emotional numbness, memory problems, nightmares, irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behaviour, overwhelming guilt or shame, trouble concentrating, being easily startled or frightened, and substance abuse. I was diagnosed with combat-related PTSD about six years ago. It was several of these symptoms that caused me to seek help. It shouldn't be surprising that someone trying to live a normal life despite the symptoms of PTSD is not going to be especially open about his or her experiences.

• Social expectations: Many veterans, even if they don't have PTSD, suffer shame because of their actions in combat, even if they did exactly what was expected of them. While I am proud to have served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam to the best of my ability, I will always question my part in a war that never should have happened. The last thing I need is criticism from some do-gooder war protestor who wasn't there (and I have been criticized).

• Nobody asks, or, if they do ask, they don't actually want to hear the answers. I was invited to a dinner party a few years ago, with the understanding that the hostess was interested in my Vietnam experiences. Maybe she really did think that she wanted to know about them, but she asked only a couple of questions, apparently didn't care for the answers, and changed the subject. It was a difficult evening, not made any easier by the fact that two of the other guests were draft dodgers. To this day I have very mixed feelings about draft dodgers and deserters.

• The experience of combat changes people, and brings them into a brotherhood in an exclusive club that only combat veterans can join. In a real sense, combat veterans have little of substance that they can share with people who haven't survived combat.

Having said all of this, I can say that I do not have any trouble talking about most of my experiences. I think it's important for people to know what combat, what wars are like. My web pages that live under the umbrella title of "37 Days in Vietnam", started as a way for me to spill my guts about the Vietnam War, but have also helped others to understand something of what we went through.

Bob


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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
30 Oct 2014
08:17:20am
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

Bob,

you are invited to my house for dinner anytime. I know my wife and child will be bored to tears, and will tell you so, but can't imagine anything more engaging.

If Susan doesn't mind, she and the girls can play.

David

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
30 Oct 2014
09:37:49am
re: US Merchant Marine Show cover

Quote:

"I know my wife and child will be bored to tears, and will tell you so, but can't imagine anything more engaging."

As for myself, I couldn't imagine a more enlightening and entertaining evening!Thumbs Up

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