Four apprentices from the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC) collectively played an important role in this year’s Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
With President Biden in attendance (his remarks are posted HERE), PHC Apprentices Orlando Quirantes, Xavier Roberts, Caleb Estrada and Emma DiGennaro served as an honor guard, carrying the United States and U.S. Merchant Marine flags. This marked the first time the U.S. Merchant Marine had been invited to participate at the solemn event.
Four World War II maritime veterans – Pete Kurkimilis, Charles Mills, Howard Pfeifer and David Yoho – attended the ceremony, as did PHC Apprentice Commandant John Romer.
“The honor guard from the SIU was absolutely fantastic!” said American Merchant Marine Veterans (AMMV) President Dru DiMattia. “It was an absolute pleasure working with the entire team.”
“It was a great day,” said AMMV Vice President Chris Edyvean, a former SIU member.
After four decades of struggling for recognition, mariners who sailed during World War II received veterans’ status in 1988. Three years later and in another first, union mariners marched in the parade from Capitol Hill to the White House with members of the U.S. Armed Services at the conclusion of the Kuwaiti War.