New MSC Commander Salutes Mariners


July 2013


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Rear Adm. Thomas K. Shannon recently expressed his gratitude for the countless contributions U.S. Merchant Mariners—past and present—have made toward the defense and prosperity of our country. Admiral Shannon is commander of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), the world’s largest employer of U.S. Merchant Mariners.


On May 22, Shannon led a rousing round of applause that was directed to a contingent of apprentices from the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center who participated in National Maritime Day Ceremonies at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. More recently, he paid tribute to mariners in his Memorial Day column which was printed in the June 2013 edition of one of his command’s authorized publications, the Sealift.


Shannon, in the piece which ran under the headline “Remembering The Forgotten,” in part said: “Memorial Day is traditionally a time to honor those who not only served our United States of America, but those who in their service made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard: these are our men and women who bear arms and go in harm’s way because they are the warriors of our great nation. Each year in May, we remember and honor our warrior heroes.


“But there is another important group of men and women who do not wear the uniforms of our armed forces, yet still willingly go in harm’s way for our country, and they have done so since our nation was born.


“These are our brave, self-sacrificing men and women of our United States Merchant Marine.”


After noting that merchant mariners from the 13 united colonies led the way to our freedom more than more two centuries ago, Shannon said that they have been part of our nation’s security and prosperity ever since. He recounted mariner’s contributions during the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.


“Our merchant mariners unloaded cargo ships in Kuwait harbor under threat of enemy missile attack during the first Gulf War,” the admiral said while changing his focus to the modern era. “Today, they support our Navy and our nation in Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf, delivering life-saving mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles; Navy patrol boats, fuel and combat supplies to our troops.”


Shannon stated that our nation has benefitted from the professionalism and expertise of civilian American mariners for 237 years. “Whenever – wherever – duty calls, they deliver, keeping our Navy on station, forward deployed and ready to face any aggressor,” he said.


“Our Navy is proud of our civilian mariners, and on May 22 each year, we honor our shipmates who have crossed the bar for the last time,” Admiral Shannon concluded. “In this month of remembrance, as we honor all who have fallen in service to our nation, please remember the men and women of our U.S. Merchant Marine.”




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