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 Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville.

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.”

Kevin M. Tokarski, Associate Administrator for National Security of the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, helped present awards to the Mariners.

During the summer, 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. An event honoring those Mariners was held at Northampton Community in August.

Subsequently, two dozen more Mariners were identified, so Congressman Dent decided to hold a second event.

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.

Honorees were:

John Barosh, Emmaus (deceased)

George Chambers, Coopersburg (deceased)

Harry Cheesbrough Jr., Whitehall (deceased)

John Cozaritch, Allentown (deceased)

Paul Eck, Easton

John Enie, Coplay

Edgar Eriksen, Allentown

Gene Gockley, Allentown

Henry Heller Jr., Allentown

Louis Hoffman, Allentown

Louis Kocsis, Allentown

Adelbert Lacey, Mount Bethel

Lawrence Mahl, Bethlehem

Dellom Manone, Hellertown

Edwin Marsteller, Allentown

Walter Novak, Macungie (deceased)

Francis Petrakovic Jr., Allentown (deceased)

Andrew Randis, Allentown (deceased)

Dick Traub, Macungie

Emery Walters, Easton