Statement of Wayne P. Paschal, American Communications Association, CIO Marine Department

Regarding HR 2346, 1945

Mr. PASCHAL. My name is Wayne P. Paschal. I am speaking for the American Communications Association, CIO, marine department, a labor union. Our organization represents the majority of the radio officers sailing in the merchant marine.

Our membership, their families and relatives have unanimously endorsed this bill and urge its quick enactment into law.

The gentlemen present, members of the committee, are aware of the importance of the job done by the merchant seamen in supplying the armed forces of this Nation and its Allies in this war and the record these seamen have established. This record has been amply stated by the military leaders of our armed forces and the leaders of the armed forces of our allies. We need not at this time elaborate upon this record. We must at all times, however, remember that in this global war but recently concluded the merchant, marine acted with, worked with, and became part of the armed forces in planning, strategy, tactics, and participation in the work of winning this war.

Our country needed men to sail the ships of the merchant marine. Rather than compulsory service, the Government chose the method of voluntary enlistment for obtaining the men needed to sail the ships. This method was chosen for good and proper reasons. Americans, by the hundreds of thousands, responded to the call of their country in time of need.

They manned the ships; the ships sailed on time with-out delays because of manpower shortages. These men responded to their country's call because they read the posters of the War Shipping Administration. They read advertisements in the newspapers. They heard announcements on the radio. All of these were part of a concerted recruiting drive to induce men to work for the war effort in the merchant marine. This program asked these citizens to serve their country as veterans in the merchant marine.

These Americans answering their country's call were under the impression, set forth in these advertisements and radio announcements asking them to serve in the merchant marine, that they were performing a patriotic duty fully as much as serving in the Army or the Navy. This was the tone of the recruiting drive, of every dinner speech, every celebration, every publication. This is fully shown by the tone of these advertisements in general and in particular. As evidence of this patriotic appeal, we quote from the Seamen's News, a publication of the recruitment and manning organization of the War Shipping Administration:

Military leaders, relying on merchant vessels to deliver the supplies during the months when the fortunes of battle shift overnight and jump from one theater of action to another measured in distances of hundreds of miles, were emphatic that no vessel be delayed. One Government official declared that failure of one ship to sail to a scheduled rendezvous might be responsible for the sacrifice of a thousand lives.

And again quoting from the same publication:

America needs these experienced seamen to supply the soldiers in the trenches and fox holes. It is a patriotic duty which cannot be ignored.

Not only in the past was this the appeal, it continues to be, as evidenced by the letter of Admiral Emory S. Land, Administrator of the War Shipping Administration, who says:

The war is over! Victory has been won! A good share of the credit is due you and thousands of other seamen who have maintained the steady stream of supplies to our fighting men all over the world. The American people and the whole world are aware of the great contribution to our victory made by the men of the merchant marine. The fighting is over but the job of the merchant marine is not finished. The American merchant marine needs your continued service. Let us all stay on the job.

Thousands of men responded to this and similar patriotic appeals. They went to work; they continue at work. They are still carrying the supplies to our forces still overseas and bringing them home. They are now carrying supplies to the distressed people of all the war-torn countries all over time world.

These men faced the same problems when they joined the merchant marine that were faced by all the GI Joes who joined the Army and Navy. They were called upon to leave their homes and families like the GI Joes. Now, like the GI Joes, they are facing the same problems of adjustment back into the civilian life of the Nation. These men now need the same help that is being given to the GI Joe.

These seamen went into the merchant marine because they believed their Nation needed them and still needs them. They believed they would receive the same consideration as the GI Joe from a grateful Government. These men certainly did not go to sea to keep shipping companies in business. They did not and do not continue to go to sea simply for a job to work. They certainly did not respond to blandishments of high wages for they found the much rumored high wages were not in fact and if proof he needed of this, they are still going to sea despite adjustments downward in their take-home pay. They went and are still going because they were told, they believed, they do believe the merchant marine is essential to a continuing victory and peace.

In the statement submitted by the women's auxiliary of this organization, specific eases of seamen's families, chosen at random from our files, are brought to your attention. These eases describe the problems faced by dependents of seamen who have lost their lives in this war, of seamen who were disabled by injury or disease and of seamen who, fortunately, came out alive and well but are now facing the problem of rehabilitating themselves into civilian life. All of these people would now be receiving aid had the seamen chosen to go into the Army or Navy instead of the merchant marine. That they chose the merchant marine on a voluntary basis is the more to their credit.

These men, these patriotic seamen whom the nation has called heroes a thousand times over are now hoping a grateful Nation, through Congress and this specific legislation, will remember the job they did and continue to do.

Gentlemen, our entire membership, their thousands of families and dependents and relatives are asking you to give them aid in returning to civilian life ashore by quick passage of this bill H.R. 2346, the "seamen's bill of rights."

I submit this statement for the record, together with copies of the publications from which I quoted.

Source:
Benefits to Merchant Seamen. Hearing before the Committee on the Merchant Marine and fisheries. House of Representatives. 79th Congress, First Session. Oct. 18 and 19, 1945

Merchant Seamen's War Service Act
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12/28/2000

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