My husband and I know of a man in his nineties who served as a Merchant Marine. This is a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Navy, but not a uniformed service that’s often over-looked and forgotten. In honor of all of America’s Merchant Marines, this little quiz is dedicated to your hard work at keeping America safe. See how much you know about this service!
1. The U.S. Merchant Marine is a civilian cargo fleet in peacetime. It only becomes a naval auxiliary force in times of war. True or false?
2. People who serve in the Merchant Marine can be referred to as Marines or Mariners; the terms are interchangeable. True or false?
3. Many historians of the Merchant Marine trace its origins back to the American Revolution, but this force was not officially chartered until Japanese imperialism in the 1930s made large-scale maritime war an imminent possibility. True or false?
4. Though usually not included as a branch of military service, the Merchant Marine had (by most accounts) a higher percentage of war dead during World War II than any of the armed forces. True or false?
5. During World War II, Merchant Marine shipmasters were under standing orders to scuttle their ships whenever capture appeared inevitable. As a result, only one Merchant Marine craft was captured during the conflict. True or false?
6. During the Battle of Guadalcanal, mariners refused to unload ships under fire. This duty was taken up grudgingly by U.S. Marines too ill for combat duty. True or false?
7. All retired mariners have routinely been eligible for full veterans benefits after a requisite time of service. True or false?
8. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is governed and regulated by the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Va., and its students share the facility with Navy and Marine officer candidates. True or false?
9. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy began admitting female students in 1974, two years before its Army and Navy counterparts at West Point and Annapolis. True or false?
10. Notable attendees of the Merchant Marine Academy include former George W. Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who was stuffed in a duffel bag and run up a flagpole as a young plebe. True or false?
1. True. The most extensive nationalization of the U.S. fleet was during World War II. Naval military personnel (officially referred to as the U.S. Naval Armed Guard) were posted to Merchant Marine ships, and mariners received special training in naval weapons systems of the day. 2. False. The term “marine” refers to those serving in the branch of the armed forces dedicated to amphibious warfare (though, as the U.S. Marine Corps’ recent service in landlocked Afghanistan indicates, the Marines are versatile). People in the Merchant Marine are usually referred to as mariners, though terms like seamen, seafarers, and sailors are also used. 3. True. 4. True. Out of approximately 243,000 mariners who served during World War II, the Merchant Marine had 9,497 war dead. 5. True. The only Merchant Marine ship captured during the