The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


February 23, 2009

Viewpoint: Merchant Marine veterans await compensation

By Don Ellwood

Pendleton resident

The young boys and men who were past draft age in the years between December 1941 until the end of World War II, in August 1945, have been waiting for 43 years for the recognition their service and sacrifice for our country deserve — to no avail.

Last year, two bills were introduced that would compensate elderly WWII Merchant Marine veterans who have long been denied the benefits of the G.I. Bill — (HR23 in the House of Representatives and S961 in the Senate). HR 23 barely passed; however, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, refused to allow S961 to be voted on.

This year, both bills will again be presented. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who is new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is a longtime supporter of monthly pensions for Filipino veterans. Both Akaka and Inouye are pushing for getting these men (who are not American citizens) a one-time $15,000 payment for their service, but they seem to do nothing for American Merchant Marine veterans who, in comparison, suffered more casualties than any other branch of our military.

Sen. Inouye did his best to delay getting Bill S961, “Just Compensation for WWII Merchant Marine Veterans,” on the Senate bill to be voted on. Both senators are now pushing their Filipino bill rather than S961.

So, the question is — where is their loyalty for American citizens and why are they loyal to Filipinos who are no longer American citizens? Also — why isn’t the Philippine government giving their own WWII veterans a pension or large cash payment? It’s time for these two senators to concern themselves with American veterans and not foreigners

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