of WWII went aboard the S.S.
Dunboyne on December 2,
1941, with other crews following soon thereafter. The Armed
of the S.S. Larranga has
the distinction of being the first to fire on an enemy submarine from
an armed merchant vessel.
Armed Guard crew consisted of Officers, Petty Officers and seamen,
as gunners in the main. Signalmen, of various ratings, had the
duties for visual communications. Armed Guard radiomen worked alongside
Merchant Seamen radio operators, but radio silence was observed except
in extreme emergency.
Guard crews also served aboard cargo ships of many Allied
well as the United States. Of the 6,236 merchant ships the Armed Guard
served aboard, 710 were sunk, and many hundreds damaged. Serving aboard
2,710 Liberty Ships alone, 216 were sunk.
Serving alongside their fellow shipmates, the men of the Merchant Marine, members of the Armed Guard received 8,035 decorations or commendations for the period ending in August of 1946. These included:
6 Navy Crosses
2 Legions of Merit
75 Silver Stars
54 Bronze Stars
24 Navy and Marine Corp medals
563 Commendations by the Secretary of the Navy
2,778 Commendations by the Bureau of Naval Personnel
4,553 entries into service records.
were 36,240 operation and engagement stars authorized for the same
period. 9,802 were authorized to wear the Philippine
Liberation Ribbon alone,
and 4,031 were authorized to wear a star on that
Hearts are too numerous to mention.
The Maritime Commission indicates that 6,989 members of the Merchant Marine became causalities, either dead or missing, during WWII. 581 were made prisoners. The Armed Guard dead or missing totaled 1,810, with 27 prisoners of war.
Submitted by: Kenneth E. Keith
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