Following up on recent articles and letters about World War II veterans, it should be noted that the Merchant Marine branch suffered the highest rate of fatalities of any branch of service ever during that war. One of every 26 Mariners who served lost their lives, compared (for example) to the one of 48 rate of the Army.
The harbor they helped build in the wild waters of the English Channel from which to stage the Normandy invasion will likely always be the greatest battlefield engineering marvel of all time.
Realizing the incredible, invaluable service of our Mariners in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, Gen. Douglas MacArthur presented the priceless ceremonial sword of surrender he received at the end of the war to the museum of the Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, N.Y.
Among those who served in the branch were author Jack Kerouac and actors Carroll O'Connor, Peter Falk and James Garner.
Our "civmars" (www.msc.navy.mil/civmar/) continue to serve our nation today in the global war on terror, having transported more than 14 billion gallons of fuel and 100 million pounds of dry cargo in support of our efforts to end terrorism.