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American Merchant Marine

Veterans Memorial Committee, Inc.

On every 22nd of May at 11am there is a National Maritime Day Observance and Memorial Service, honoring the American Merchant Marine Veterans who bravely served their country. Located at West 6th Street, Long Beach,  California 90802.

Call AMMVMC President Wendy Karnes 310-465-9451 or email


May 22 Luncheon
Double Tree San Pedro
(Click QR Code)

About The Memorial

This striking memorial, the first national memorial to merchant seamen in the United States, was commissioned by a group of local seamen to honor merchant marine veterans from all wars. At the height of World War II, there were 215,000 merchant mariners, including many teenage boys too young to enlist in the military, and men classified as 4-F, yet caught up in the patriotic fervor that swept the country after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. According to official statistics, more than 6,795 civilian merchant seamen lost their lives in World War II for a causality rate of 1:32 (the highest casualty rate of any service); 600 were taken prisoner; and more than 650 of their ships were sunk. Unofficial statistics cite 8,651 merchant mariners killed at sea, 11,000 wounded, 1,100 died from their wounds ashore, 604 taken prisoner and 60 died in prison camps.


American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee Officers

President –  Wendy Karnes
Treasurer –  Bent L. Christiansen
Vice President – Jerry Aspland
Secretary – 

Board of Directors

Robert Bugarin
Harold Gage
Matt Hartzell
Mark Hurley
John McElhone
Paul Nielsen
Jeff Turkus
Greg Williams
Charles D. Naylor, Esq. 

Committee Members

Manny Aschemeyer


Marifrances Trivelli, Director, Los Angeles Maritime Museum​ 

The Statue

The bronze statue depicts two merchant seamen climbing a Jacob’s ladder after making a rescue at sea. The designer of the statue was the Wilmington, CA sculptor, Jasper D’Ambrosi. His creation of the original design was finished and accepted in early 1986. However, D’Ambrosi died August 1 of the same year before starting the final clay model. The enlargement was done by his sons, Marc and Michael as a tribute to their father. The Jacobs ladder was cast at the family foundry, Arizona Bronze, in Tempe, AZ in 1987. Although the land for the memorial was donated by the City virtually all of the $700,000 for the project came from private donors.

 A bronze plaque on the memorial states, “The United States Merchant Marine has faithfully served our country in times of war and peace hauling cargo to every corner of the world. This Memorial is dedicated to those brave men and women of all races, creeds and colors who answered that call to serve.”

The Memorial


A bronze plaque on the memorial states, “The United States Merchant Marine has faithfully served our country in times of war and peace hauling cargo to every corner of the world. This Memorial is dedicated to those brave men and women of all races, creeds and colors who answered that call to serve.” The United States Merchant Marine refers to either United States civilian mariners, or to U.S. civilian and federally owned merchant vessels. Both the civilian mariners, and the merchant vessels, are managed by a combination of the government and private sectors, and engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine primarily transports cargo and passengers during peacetime; in times of war, the Merchant Marine can be an auxiliary to the United States Navy, and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materiel for the military. Merchant Marine officers may also be commissioned as military officers by the Department of Defense. This is commonly achieved by commissioning unlimited tonnage Merchant Marine officers as Strategic Sealift Officers in the Naval Reserves.


Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, and operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, charter boats and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, harbors, and other waterways.


As of 31 December 2016, the United States merchant fleet had 175 privately owned, oceangoing, self-propelled vessels of 1,000 gross register tons and above that carry cargo from port to port or more.[8] Nearly 800 American-owned ships are flagged in other nations.


The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command (part of the US Navy) and the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which is managed by the United States Maritime Administration. In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.


In the 19th and 20th centuries, various laws fundamentally changed the course of American merchant shipping. These laws put an end to common practices such as flogging and shanghaiing, and increased shipboard safety and living standards. The United States Merchant Marine is also governed by more than 25 (as of 17 February 2017) international conventions to promote safety and prevent pollution.

The progress and commercial success of the United States of America closely parallels the historic greatness of the American Merchant Marine. It is the same Merchant Marine who supplied our first Navy, manned by John Paul Jones, John Barry and many others, who played a significant role in the American Revolution. History records that many merchantmen, commissioned as privateers and naval vessels, were instrumental in defeating the British at their own game. Many of our early leaders were from American shipping families. The contributions of the American Merchant Mariner during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts, should be made known to all Americans. The casualty percentage of the U.S. Merchant Mariner during World War II was higher than any of the U.S. Armed forces.

American Merchant Mariners have faithfully served their country in times of war and peace, transporting life and cargo to every corner of the world. They have helped to win wars and to maintain peace by providing necessary materials, food and supplies to assist many nations in rebuilding their countries and economies.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower said on Maritime Day in 1945: “The officers and men of the Merchant Marine, by their devotion to duty in the face of enemy action, as well as natural danger of the sea, have brought us the tool to finish the job. Their contribution to final victory will long be remembered.” On National Maritime Day, May 22, 1989 our Committee dedicated the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial, not long after the Committee started a fund drive to erect the first National Merchant Marine Veterans Wall of Honor. On National Maritime Day, May 22, 2003 the five Walls of Honor were dedicated. These Memorials are the largest and most significant in the nation honoring American Merchant Mariners. The Committee still needs support to maintain and make improvements on the Memorials. 


West 6th Street, Long Beach, California 90802, United States 

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(+310) 465-9451

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American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee