BETHLEHEM TWP -- U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today presented medals and honors to area Merchant Marine veterans who served during the Second World War, honors long overdue for the Merchant Mariners’ important contributions and sacrifice during the war.

The event was held at Northampton Community College’s Gates Hall.

Congressman Dent cosponsored and voted in favor of legislation to establish an Equity Compensation Fund to provide benefits for Americans who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. This bill, H.R. 23, passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote on 12 May 2009 and currently awaits action before the Senate.

“It is high time that our nation properly honors these veterans whose efforts played an indispensible role in assuring our nation’s victory in the Second World War,” Congressman Dent said. “America’s Merchant Mariners were called to service in numerous ways, helping supply the armies of the free world at great peril, often with little or no armed protection. Merchant ships faced danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders, destroyers, aircraft, and the elements.

“These Mariners suffered hardship and heavy casualties, from our own coastline to the remote corners of the world. We owe them our eternal thanks, as we do all who served in that great and terrible conflict.”

The ceremony included remarks from Kevin M. Tokarski, Associate Administrator for National Security of the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, and Paul Doell, Legislative Director for the American Maritime Officers. Both discussed the long and distinguished history of the Merchant Marine and its support of military and humanitarian missions.

Also as part of the ceremony, buglers from Freedom High School played “Taps” in memory of those Mariners who lost their lives during the war or who had since passed away.

Congressman Dent’s office had reached out to find local Merchant Marine veterans of World War II and received responses from about 50 veterans and their families (four responses were on behalf of deceased veterans.)

Twenty-five Mariners who were able to attend the ceremony each were presented with a Congressional certificate, a Maritime Administration medal and citation, and an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol. Others will receive theirs at a later time.

The event participants and names of honorees follow:

Contributing Organizations and Participants

US Department of Transportation

• Kevin M. Tokarski

Associate Administrator for National Security of the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration

American Maritime Officers

• Mr. Paul Doell – Legislative Director


Freedom High School Bugle Corps

• Ms. Jennifer Reyda - Bugler

• Mr. Robert Boring - Bugler

Special Guests – WWII Veterans

• Mr. Clarence Newcommer

President of the Susquehanna Mariners Chapter

• Mr. William Balabanow

Member and Editor for the Susquehanna Mariners Chapter


• Mr. Clinton Barr

Served in the US Navy during WWII as an Armed Guard protecting the Merchant Mariners

• Mr. Arthur Herring Jr.

VP Philadelphia Council – Navy League of the United States


Honorees (alphabetical order):

Edward Barrington,  Whitehall **deceased

Maurice Benoit,  Allentown

Charles K. Bergey, Bethlehem

Samuel S. Bodder, Easton

Lewis E. Davis, Jr., Souderton

Ralph De Angelis, Bethlehem

Read Earl, Center Valley

James C. Edmonds, Catasauqua

David M.Fischer, Souderton

Robert G.Gifford, Allentown

Horace Goodwin, Bath **deceased

Roland T.Graver, Bethlehem

Arthur S.Hand, Gilbertsville

Albert Heimbach, East Greenville

Arthur Herring, Jr., Souderton

George E. Hill, Easton

John Karas, Macungie

John T. Kauffman, Emmaus

Thomas J. Kelly, Souderton **deceased

William R. Kennedy Bethlehem

Joseph H. Kline, Easton

Edward Labatch, Sr.,  Easton

William Lampe, Easton

William J. Maier, Bethlehem

Joseph Marks, Easton

Charles Miller, Bethlehem

Tony Nastasee, Hellertown

Boyd O'Neal,  Allentown **deceased

James Pallone, Crestview , Florida (former area resident)

Herbert Reeve, Orefield

Don Shay, Palmerton

James C. Short, Whitehall

Joseph F. Shunk, Bethlehem

Robert Snyder, Easton

Alfred C. Spang, Allentown

Charles J. Sterner, Bethlehem

Charles Strohl, Allentown

Liba L. Studley, Allentown

Frank L. Tettemer, Bethlehem

Dominick J. Troiano, Bethlehem

Maurice S. Tyson, Bethlehem

George P. Vas, Bethlehem

Emery J. Walters, Easton

Sam Wierman, Macungie

Henry J. Willis, Schnecksville

Henry Zeppenfelt, Allentown