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MERCHANT MARINE: Auxiliary to Navy or Coast Guard?

Letter by Leonard J. Westhoff, Eatonville on June 8, 2011 at 11:49 am | No Comments »
June 8, 2011 11:49 am

Your article (TNT, 6-8) regarding the addition of the Merchant Marine flag to the array of flags in Lakewood’s council chamber referred to the U.S. Merchant Marine as a civilian auxiliary to the U.S. Navy. I sailed as a merchant seaman during World War II, and I was under the impression that the USMM was under the U.S. Coast Guard.

When I joined at the age of 16 (the country was a little short of merchant seamen right then), I was sent to boot camp on Catalina Island, which was conducted by the Coast Guard. From there, I was sent to Radio Officer’s School at Gallups Island, Mass., again run by the Coast Guard. When I sent my “Seaman’s Allotment” home to my mother, it was through the USCG. And when, in 1993, I received my (somewhat belated) honorable discharge papers, they were from the Coast Guard.

When did the Navy take over?


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