WWII Merchant Mariners Awarded Congressional Gold Medal at U.S. Capitol

Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Posted on May 19, 2022

Veterans Honored on Capitol Hill After Long Voyage for Recognition

WASHINGTON —Today, the American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) commended the 10 veterans of the U.S. Merchant Marine awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress. The veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the approximately 1,500 remaining Merchant Mariners of WWII.

“The bravery demonstrated by the U.S. Merchant Mariners to keep Allied Forces supplied during World War II is second to none,” said Dru DiMattia, President of the American Merchant Marine Veterans. “In the face of targeted attacks by German submarines and U-boats, the unarmed Merchant Mariners met the moment with resilience and courage, and serve as an inspiration for all of American Maritime.”

102-year-old Charlie Mills of Pearland, TX

In 2020, Congress unanimously passed the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act thanks to the advocacy of Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The bill was promptly signed into law though the official award was delayed due to the global pandemic.


  • There were 243,000 mariners that served in the war. 9,521 perished while serving – a higher proportion of those killed than any branch of the US military.
  • Roughly four percent of those who served were killed, a higher casualty rate than that of any of the American military services during World War II.
  • Merchant Mariners experienced some of the earliest action of the war due to German submarines attacking British merchant ships in the Atlantic, disrupting supply chains to America’s allies.
  • These mariners were not provided veteran status until 1988.


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