U.S. Merchant Marine Flag joins other Armed Forces Flags at Mt. Rushmore

For Immediate Release Contact: Jennifer Hayes
Monday, April 8, 2002 202-225-2801

Thune: Merchant Marine Flag to be Displayed at Mt. Rushmore

Sioux Falls, SD - Congressman John Thune announced today that the National Park Service (NPS) has responded to his request that the Merchant
Marine service flag be displayed at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. When Thune was informed by the American Merchant Marine Veterans that the flag was absent, he appealed to NPS officials to include the flag with those of the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

"I am extremely pleased that NPS and AmFac Recreational Services officials have agreed to display the Merchant Marine service flag at Mt. Rushmore," said Thune. "The Merchant Marine has provided crucial support to the U.S. Armed Forces in times of conflict. It is only fitting that they be represented at America's Shrine of Democracy."

Although present throughout America's history, Merchant Marine became
especially well known for their service during World War II. Approximately 8,380 mariners were killed at sea, 12,000 wounded, and 663 men and women were taken prisoner. One in twenty-six mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said of the mariners' service in WWII,
"They have written one of its most brilliant chapters. They have delivered
the goods when and where needed in every theater of operations and across
every ocean in the biggest, the most difficult and dangerous job ever undertaken. As time goes on, there will be greater public understanding of our merchant's fleet record during this war."

"I wish to thank Congressman Thune for his efforts," said American Merchant Marine Veterans member Floyd Reed of Rochford, South Dakota. "I had exhausted all efforts to get the Merchant Marine flag displayed at Mt.Rushmore. Nothing was being done until Congressman Thune took action."

According to NPS officials, the flag has been ordered, but must be
custom made. The anticipated delivery date is not later than April 30, 2002,
at which time it will be displayed along with the other service flags at
Mt. Rushmore.
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Online archives from The Rapid City Journal Online.
www.rapidcityjournal.com


April 28, 2002

Merchant Marine flag to fly at Mount Rushmore

Merchant Marine veterans will get their own flag at Mount Rushmore.

Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., announced that the National Park Service has responded to his request that the Merchant Marine service flag be displayed at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

"I am extremely pleased that NPS and AmFac Recreational Services have agreed to display the Merchant Marine service flag at Mount Rushmore," Thune said in a news release.

Jim Popovich, chief of interpretation at Mount Rushmore, confirmed that AmFac, the concessionaire, agreed to put up the Merchant Marine flag on the wall of the snack bar in the Mount Rushmore Visitor Center. It will join the flags for the Army, Navy and other branches of the military.

"The flag has been kind of a bone of contention," Popovich said. Over the years, the staff fielded questions about why the Merchant Marine flag was not on the wall honoring the branches of the military.

According to the U.S. Merchant Marine Web site, the Merchant Marine is the fleet of ships that carries freight during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime. The Merchant Marine delivers troops and materiel.

During World War II, the U.S. government took over control of the entire fleet. The government directed the cargo and destinations, and contracted with private companies to operate the ships, according to the Web site www.usmm.org. The government also put guns and Navy personnel on the
ships.

And 8,780 members of the Merchant Marine died in World War II, or 3.9 percent of the 215,000 sailors in the Merchant Marine - a wartime death rate higher even than the U.S. Marine Corps.

Floyd Reed of Rochford, a member of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, thanked Thune for his help. "I had exhausted all efforts to get the Merchant Marine flag displayed at Mount Rushmore. Nothing was being done until Congressman Thune took action," he said.




Special thanks to Floyd Reed, Beech Dale, and Burt Young of the Mo Valley Chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, and members of the VFW and American Legion.


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6/30/03