TV JOURNALIST TOM BROKAW APPEARS TO BE UNAWARE OF THE ROLE OF THE U.S.MERCHANT MARINE and U.S. MARITIME SERVICE IN WWII
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Photo: Public Domain
In mid July TV journalist Tom Brokaw,
a presumed journalistic "expert" in World
War II history, while presenting a program
on the war era completely omitted any
mention of the contributions of the American
Merchant Marine to the war effort.
The result of our complete and abject lack of a
coherent national maritime policy is our
shrinking international,Merchant fleet, a
domestic offshore oil industry being rapidly
dominated by foreign flag drilling vessel owners,
and a domestic (shipping between and among U.S.
ports)Merchant Marine under constant legislative
attack against its legal protections by people who
should know better, foremost among them Senator John
McCain of Arizona.
Photo from Library of Congress
Brokaw, like most Americans seemed blissfully unaware
that by law the U.S. Merchant Marine is a "naval
auxiliary" and when in times of national emergency
"naval control" of shipping is declared can be
brought directly under the control of the Chief of
naval operations. When that happens the already
para-naval conditions of employment can shift quickly to
virtual naval discipline as was the case with the enrolled members of the U.S. Maritime Service. The
employment conditions of U.S. Maritime Service(formed to
rapidly expand the available manpower to man the
rapidly building Merchant Marine military transport
fleet)and the U.S.Merchant Marine involved combat
exposure from the moment the U.S. port of embarkation sea
buoy was passed.
Brokaw was taken to task by International Masters,
Mates, and Pilots Association (MM&P) member Joseph H.
Foreman in the pages of the "Macon County News" as
recently reported in the pages of the "Wheel House"
magazine of the MM&P for failing to note the
following in his assessment of the contributions by
the various services in WWII:
"One in every 26 merchant seamen was lost in World War II,
Foreman wrote. Many in the Veterans of Foreign Wars
may have been overseas but not in harms way,but a
U.S. Merchant Seaman was in harms way as soon as his
ship left port. Also, if his ship got sunk, his pay
stopped. A prisoner of war, no pay, on the beach awaiting another ship, no pay, also not allowed in U.S.O. club."
As noted in the MM&P's WHEELHOUSE :
"Foreman, himself a World War II veteran, reminded
Brokaw that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
called the American Merchant Marine our
nations fourth arm of defense. Learn some
history if you are as smart as they all say you are,
he told the journalist."
Photo: Public Domain
World War II wasn't the only conflict that the U.S.
Merchant Marine served in.
Photos: Public Domain We previously
published a pictorial essay on U.S.Merchant Marine
combat history in which we stated:
"This was just a short reminder that your U.S. Merchant Marine is by law a naval auxiliary and carries the beans and the bullets to U.S. troops in war zones where others won't go, transports military cargoes to tidewater down the great rivers of this nation. Stands ready day and night to fight marine fires, tow dangerous objects out of harms way or steam into apparent danger to get you off of Manhattan when terrorist strike. Senator John McCain has called us "laughable" and wants to repeal the Jones Act, the only legislation that keeps the U.S. Merchant Marine in its daily bread and butter business between wars and emergencies. Our sacred dead are not laughing, we as working seamen are not laughing. No, each day we are towing the heating oil and gasoline for the Midwest north in tank barges from Gulf Coast refineries. We are servicing the offshore oil rigs and occasionally extinguishing the fires and cleaning up their pollution. We are bringing back U.S. military equipment from Afghanistan, and providing tug service to all those foreign flag freighters and tankers in our ports who have largely displaced us in carrying America's non domestic trade. Now John McCain would like for Chinese and Mexican mariners to take over our peace time jobs. But will they serve you the American people when the chips are down, we don't think so. John McCain is to us what Jane Fonda is to him. And for the record we don't like her either."
Photo USCG Photos:Public Domain