Press Release Issued by the United States Maritime Commission February 26, 1946 for the introduction of the U.S. Merchant Marine stamp
Odlin - Maritime 62 PR 2576
United States Maritime Commission
Tuesday, February 26, 1946
Tribute to the war service of American merchant ships and their crews was paid by Third Assistant Postmaster General Joseph J. Lawler today as he launched a sale of the special merchant marine postage stamp at ceremonies in the Department of Commerce auditorium.
"It is well," said Mr. Lawler, "to recall the fact that while our merchant marine was not officially classified as a fighting force in the war just closed, the military commanders of both the United States and her Allies have testified time and again to the high value of the contribution merchant ships and merchant seamen made toward ultimate victory. It is their opinion that without the lifeline of imperative supplies maintained by our merchant marine our enemies across both oceans would not have been defeated in such a comparatively short time. Victory, in all probability, would have been long delayed."
Describing the special merchant marine stamp as fifth and last of the special series in honor of the Armed Forces, Mr. Lawler presented the first sheet to Edward Macauley, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission, who expressed the gratitude of the Merchant Marine for the recognition thus accorded its achievements.
Scott # 939
Recalling that 604 large American merchant ships were sunk by the enemy during the conflict, Mr. Lawler noted that Crew Casualties told more than 5,000 dead or missing in action, and that for heroism and other outstanding conduct in actual combat more than 100 seamen who manned our war freighters have received the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal, highest award authorized by Congress. Many other hundreds have been given appropriate awards.
"Members of our Merchant Marine served valiantly in the African and Italian campaigns and braved the perils of the deadly Murmansk route that supplied Russia with desperately needed weapons and supplies. The ships of the American Merchant Marine formed an important part of the vast fleet that made the Normandy invasion and cracking of Hitler's 'Fortress Europe' possible. In the conquest of Japan the American Merchant Marine played a conspicuous part. Its ships assisted in General MacArthur's recovery of the Philippines, the capture of various other strategic islands and aided in the final advance on the Jap homeland.
"I have tried to point out some of the outstanding achievements of our American Merchant Marine which we honor today. Its ships and its men will now sail forth to the ports of the civilized world on peaceful missions, delivering the products of America's farms, mills and factories to our friendly nations in return for the things which we in this country need. The Postmaster General was indeed happy to approve a postage stamp in commemoration of the achievements of the United States Merchant Marine.
"On such a historical and important occasion," said Acting Chairman Macauley in accepting the first stamps of the issue, "the thoughts of many of us will naturally turned back in grateful memory to the man who loved stamps, who loved ships, and who, in my humble opinion, was the best friend the American Merchant Marine has ever had, Franklin Roosevelt.
"I assure you that the Commission, speaking for the American Merchant Marine, values this tribute very highly and will see that these stamps are kept in an appropriate and secure place to commemorate forever the splendid deeds of our merchant seamen and the accomplishments of our merchant marine in the war now happily finished.
S. Duvall Schell, Executive Director of the U. S. Maritime Commission presided at the ceremonies. During the exercises the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal was presented by Acting Chairman Macauley to Captain Andrew W. Gavin of 65 West 54th Street, New York, New York, master of the SS Alcoa Pioneer, for valor in seamanship that helped save that freighter when attacked by Jap planes in the Philippines.
The new Maritime Commission members, Richard Parkhurst and Raymond S. McKeough were introduced to that assemblage and the ceremonies opened and closed with music by the Maritime Commission Band.
First Day covers Merchant Marine Stamp of 1946
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