World War II Merchant Marine veteran receives Convoy medallion

The Convoy Cup Foundation, representing chapters in Canada, Norway and the United States, recently presented the Convoy Cup Foundation Medallion to U.S. Merchant Marine Veteran Harry G. Pierson of Scarborough in recognition and appreciation of his service at sea on the convoys during the Second World War.

Pierson was an engineering officer who served on U.S. merchant ships in all positions from 4th assistant engineer to 2nd assistant engineer from 1943 to 1946. He received his initial training at Fort Trumbull and served on vessels in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Pierson, who is 100 years old, received the award at the home of his daughter in Scarborough. The presentation was made by members of U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII, Arctic Campaign Memorial Trust chaplain Capt. Jeffrey Monroe, and the International Association of Maritime and Port chaplain the Rev. Gary Drinkwater of the Anglican Church of America.

During World War II, 243,000 civilian merchant mariners in support of the U.S. military delivered supplies and armed forces personnel by ship to foreign countries engulfed in the war. Some 9,521 perished while serving – a higher proportion of those killed than any other branch of the U.S. military. There were 733 Merchant Marine ships sunk in enemy attacks, and the Japanese captured 609 mariners as prisoners of war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called their mission “the most difficult and dangerous transportation job ever undertaken.” In recognition of their service during World War II, the United Kingdom and Russia presented the National Memorial to the United States. It was placed in Portland, Maine, last port of departure for merchant ships in the Atlantic Campaign. In addition, many of the Liberty Ships put into service during the war were built in South Portland. Many mariners from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and state maritime schools, including Maine Maritime Academy, served and perished during the war.

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