Carol Skydell <skydell@...>
Robert Silverstein asked how to access a military death certificate for his
cousin who served in the Merchant Marines during WWll and was lost at sea
in the most dangerous of routes, the Murmansk run, and Stan Goodman
blithely tells us we are "not talking about a military service, and neither
"rank" nor "service record" are appropriate terms.
Well, in that case I guess my late husband must have fibbed about going to
officer's training school in Kings Point, rented his uniform >from a costume
shop, falsified his rank as a Lieutenant jg in the United States Merchant
Marine, and allowed his mother's hair to turn grey with worry needlessly,
as her one and only son sailed the North Atlantic playing tag with
torpedoes and German U-boats.
For your information Mr. Goodman, The United States Merchant Marine is not
only a naval and military auxiliary in time of war but in WWII it suffered
the highest casualty rate of all the services, demonstrably higher than the
U.S. Marines. One in every thirty-two merchant seamen lost their lives,
serving in all combat zones, Atlantic and Pacific. Not only were they
subject to the articles of war, they were also subject to court martial
during WW II. In a much publicized court case following deliberate lies
broadcast by that prince of yellow journalism Walter Winchell claiming that
merchant seaman refused to unload ships in Guadalcanal, the merchant seaman
later sued for libel and won, big time.
It wasn't unitl Jan 19, 1988 that American merchant seamen who sailed from
Dec 7, 1941 to Dec. 31 1946 were retroactively granted full veteran status,
and entitled to all the bells and whistles of a military funeral courtesy
of the U.S. Coast Guard. And coincidentally just a month ago after being
unanimously approved by both houses of Congress, President Clinton signed
the American Merchant Seaman's Fairness Act, granting extended veterans
benefits to all merchant seamen.
So Robert, to find information about a relative who served in the Merchant
Marine try the office handling U.S. Coast Guard discharges and records and
send a $10.00 Check or Money Order payable to U.S. Coast Guard with Name,
Date of Birth, Death Certificate if deceased, Social Security number,
Address, and Z number [if known] to: Director (NMC-4A), U.S. Coast Guard,
National Maritime Center, 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 510, Arlington, VA.
To find out about medals and decorations due your relative. Make a written
request to Patricia Thomas, Medals and Decorations, U.S. Maritime
Administration, Room 7302, Department of Transportation, Washington, DC
20590. To apply for a Russian Medal for operations to any Soviet Union
ports: Russian medals, Merchant Marine Medals
And to learn about the United States Merchant Marine, check
out their website www.USMM.org (note the CAPS)
Laguna Hills, CA
-> A cousin of mine served in the Merchant Marines during World War
II. His ship
-> was sunk on the Murmansk Run delivering supplies to Russia and
he was lost at
-> sea. I do not know the name of his ship or his rank.
-> I have several questions:
-> 1) Does the military issue death certificates or is there just a
-> made on the service record?
-> 2) If a certificate is issued, what information would be
contained on it and
-> how would one obtain a copy?
-> 3) In the same vein, would a civilian death certificate be
issued for that
-> person and if so where would one look for it?
-> Many thanks,
-> Robert Silverstein
-> Aurora, Colorado