News

Captain Richard Phillips-Lane Kirkland Maritime Trust Hosts World War II Merchant Marine Veterans

June 20th 2019

The three came to Washington, D.C., to urge support of legislation that would give long overdue recognition to merchant seamen who served in World War II by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal.

They called their Congressional visits day “Storm The Hill.”

It is an oft-forgotten fact that more than 6,000 merchant mariners died in the service of our country during World War II.

Their stories of service make us all proud of the contributions of our maritime industry to the Nation’s strategic sealift capability and defense.

Eugene “Gene” Barner, who lives in Overland Park, Kansas, joined the volunteer service in November 1943. His ship and the others docked alongside it in Okinawa, a staging area for a planned invasion of Japan, endured nightly Kamikaze attacks. He counts himself lucky to have made it through the war unscathed.

Charles Mills, who lives in Pearland, Texas, started his career in the United States Merchant Marine in 1937, serving aboard the USS Carlton. He sailed until the end of World War II. After the war, he embarked on a four-decade career as a National Maritime Union official.

Gerard Driscoll, from Pennsylvania, grew up with five brothers, all of whom served in World War II. He had planned to do the same but was not allowed to join the Navy because he was only 16. He worked as a coal passer on the Great Lakes before securing his credentials and went on to serve as a merchant mariner during the invasions of Saipan, the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

The keynote speaker was Congressman Bradley Byrne (R- Alabama), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who discussed the vital role America’s mariners and the maritime industry play in the daily fabric of American life and in maintaining our freedom.

The Maritime Day event was jointly sponsored by a group of organizations that share the Captain Richard Phillips-Lane Kirkland Maritime Trust’s commitment to helping motivated individuals achieve their goals of a career at sea and promoting public awareness and policy that helps ensure a strong commercial maritime industry.

The following sponsors received a round of applause: the American Maritime Congress, Invesco, Bold Ocean, MM&P, MIRAID and Gorfine Schiller Gardyn Certified Public Accountants and Consultants.

Proceeds from the event are funding scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in maritime or related industries.

“I wanted to thank the directors of the Phillips Kirkland Trust for making an investment in the future of the maritime industry,” said Scott Rodgville of Gorfine Schiller Gardyn (GSG).

“The industry plays such a vital role in the economy and security of the United States. I am so pleased to see an organization making the investment in the future of the industry by ensuring individuals have an opportunity to get engaged in the work and establish their careers. GSG is proud to be associated with such an important endeavor. In addition, it was quite the honor for us to spend a few minutes with the World War II Merchant Marines that evening, in addition to Captain Phillips. Congratulations on a great event!”

To find out more about the Trust and get involved, go to: captainphillipstrust.org