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Unread 05-05-2006, 09:59 AM   #1
GIJOE
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Dad's Merchant Marine service in WWII

I've been sorting thru my folk's stuff after my Mom died recently. I found a pack containing my Dad's Merchant Marine records. All he ever said about his war service was that "They called him a cook's helper and gave him a gun." These records I found show that on:

8/24/43 he completed a probation program for Steward's Mate 2nd Class.
9/1/43 he was classified II-B
11/12/43 completed training at Sheepshead Bay, NY
12/12/43 shipped out on steamship SS Pomona (I think that's how it was spelled)
ID says St. Ma. 2nd Class
7/11/44 ID shows Class II-B
7/18/44 discharge paper shows Class I-C Honorable Discharge but the letterhead
says US Marines, not Merchant Marines.

A lifelong friend of my Dad's said that he joined the US Marines but was only in for 4 days before going into the Merchant Marines. My Dad's brother was killed in a bomber crash in Jan, 1943. The news article lists my Dad and another brother as "serving in the Marines somewhere in the Pacific." But I am pretty sure he was in the Merchant Marines too.

To any military men/women out there:

I thought Merchant Marines were like a "civilian" branch and not issued weapons. What do the different class designations mean? And finally, how could he enlist into the Marines and get out after four days to go into the Merchant Marines? Any thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks, Joe

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Unread 05-05-2006, 10:07 AM   #2
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Merchant Marines were civilian sailors that were used during the war to ferry supplies and soldiers to and from Europe and the Pacific. They pretty much got the bone from the nation and the government. There are some good programs on Merchant Marines available from The History Channel and PBS. Google would probably turn up a lot of good info for you too.
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Unread 05-05-2006, 10:12 AM   #3
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My dad was in the Merchant Marines during WWII and I sure agree with mgertsch's "They pretty much got the bone from the nation and the government" statement. It wasn't until after my dad died 20 years ago that their service was finally even recognized.

The only story my dad ever told me was this... the freighter he was on was in a convoy going across the Pacific to the Philippines when their engine died. The convoy was forced to leave them behind so dad's ship was floating alone while they worked on the engine. Early the next morning, they saw fireworks from explosions just over the horizon and they later learned that his convoy had been sunk entirely by a fleet of Japanese submarines. His ship was the only one in the convoy to make it and it was only their engine trouble that saved them... and me!
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Unread 05-05-2006, 12:28 PM   #4
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Yea, maybe that's why he didn't talk about it much. Did a Google search and found a good web site that will give out, if possible, crew records, pics of ships etc for a $20.00 "donation". I think that may be money well spent, second only to the JeepForum of course! Thanks for the replies, Joe
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Unread 05-05-2006, 12:36 PM   #5
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I saw a really good show about the merchant marines on the history channel the other week. But I dont know about those ranks (me=army guy)

Basically talked about the enormous tasks of building the ships (some were built in very short time frames) and then about the men who sailed them over seas. They came under attack because they were supplying the war effort.

I didnt really know about them until I saw that show.

It amazes me the things the WWII Generation did, nothing seemed impossible to them. I have a lot of my grandads pics from the phillipines, most are slide negatives, but in good condition, I keep meaning to get some printed, they are really good pics.... He befriended his CO to be able to keep them , becuase unlike today when soldiers with digital cameras can instantly send photos home through email, all pictures and letters had to be "approved" by the "War Department"

Big Ups to all who participated in the WWII effort, at home and abroad..
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Unread 05-05-2006, 01:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GIJOE
Yea, maybe that's why he didn't talk about it much. Did a Google search and found a good web site that will give out, if possible, crew records, pics of ships etc for a $20.00 "donation". I think that may be money well spent, second only to the JeepForum of course! Thanks for the replies, Joe
Do you have a link to that website!?!?!?!?
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Unread 05-05-2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GIJOE
I thought Merchant Marines were like a "civilian" branch and not issued weapons. What do the different class designations mean? And finally, how could he enlist into the Marines and get out after four days to go into the Merchant Marines? Any thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks, Joe
Merchant ships during WWII were armed with some small guns (Liberty ships, for example). The U.S. took forever to implement convoys and lots of merchant ships were needlessly lost early on in the war. In fact, out of all the services, the merchant marine suffered the greateast amount of casualties, percentage-wise (ie: You were more likely to die on a merchant ship crossing an ocean, than die on the front lines in Europe). Because of the high demand for sailors and the close relationship the merchant marine had with the Navy, the US Maritime Service was formed. This was the first organized, governemnt-run organization for the merchant marine (they were civilian sailors). The USMS is still around, most of them teaching at the maritime schools. Most also have a "cross-commission" (for lack of a better term) as officers in the US Naval Reserve.

GIJOE:

I'm currently a Midshipman at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Although most of what we do here is officer-oriented, there may be some more info here on your father's ship, where it went, what it did etc. If you want, I'd be more than willing to put a little research into it. Could save you the 20 bucks too.
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Unread 05-05-2006, 03:06 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=GIJOE:

I'm currently a Midshipman at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Although most of what we do here is officer-oriented, there may be some more info here on your father's ship, where it went, what it did etc. If you want, I'd be more than willing to put a little research into it. Could save you the 20 bucks too.[/QUOTE]


I'd be thrilled! I'd send you the $20.00! His full name was Joseph Frank Kudron, though some records show his name as Joseph Julius Kudron, born and raised in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Joe
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Unread 05-05-2006, 03:08 PM   #9
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Jerry,
Did a Google search and found this site:

http://www.usmm.org/

I was on quite a few sites, but this one seemed most complete. And I THINK it's the $20.00 site... Joe
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Unread 05-05-2006, 05:47 PM   #10
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While we are talking about Merchant Marines, there is one thing that really bothers me - the fact that since Dad was not a "veteran", he doesn't get a flag above his grave on Veteran's Day. My Mom said to just "stick one in" but neither of us did as we didn't want to be improper. What are your feelings or comments on this? Maybe they should have a Merchant Marine flag holder I can purchase and use. I'm definitely going to check into this. It's been bothering me for a long time...
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Unread 05-05-2006, 06:04 PM   #11
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My grandfather was in the Navy for 4 years then went Merchant Marine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GIJOE
While we are talking about Merchant Marines, there is one thing that really bothers me - the fact that since Dad was not a "veteran", he doesn't get a flag above his grave on Veteran's Day. My Mom said to just "stick one in" but neither of us did as we didn't want to be improper. What are your feelings or comments on this? Maybe they should have a Merchant Marine flag holder I can purchase and use. I'm definitely going to check into this. It's been bothering me for a long time...
I'd say Fly the flag. He did his part in WWII, just like my grandfather did. Of course, this is one of those things where people will be either like me and say fly it and then there will be others that say if you fly it you are the anti christ that will burn the world and humanity for doing so.
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Unread 05-05-2006, 06:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GIJOE
While we are talking about Merchant Marines, there is one thing that really bothers me - the fact that since Dad was not a "veteran", he doesn't get a flag above his grave on Veteran's Day. My Mom said to just "stick one in" but neither of us did as we didn't want to be improper. What are your feelings or comments on this? Maybe they should have a Merchant Marine flag holder I can purchase and use. I'm definitely going to check into this. It's been bothering me for a long time...
Put up an American flag.

Be VERY proud of your dad's service.

Imagine - MAYBE 11 knots an hour...if you were lucky...subs, mines, bombers, commerce raiders looking for you...a pea shooter for defence...if you were lucky...and if your ship became damaged or disabled the rest of the convoy was under orders to leave you behind...and enemy subs didn't bother to pick up survivors...and, if you got through, your reward was a return trip...so you could do it all over again.

Be VERY proud of your dad's service.
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Unread 05-05-2006, 08:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FmrVette
Put up an American flag... Be VERY proud of your dad's service.
The Flag's gonna fly. Thank you, Joe
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Unread 05-06-2006, 09:15 AM   #14
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Fantastic, my dad also was a Merchant Marine during WWII. I remember my mom telling me stories about her and my dads sister getting mail that was in code that they developed before he left so they would always know where he was. I also remember my mom telling me stories about how they (my dad and others) worried for days watching an enemy sub follow them, and all they could do was watch. They had no escort. My dad never really talked about it and I can't very well ask him anymore. Would be nice to learn more.
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