For Immediate Release
July 5, 2006

Merchant Marine Rally
July 5-6, 2006--Dr. David Sanders, candidate for the office of U.S. Representative for the 4th Congressional District of the State of Indiana, spoke at rallies of World War II Merchant Marine veterans as part of their convoy through Monticello, Lafayette, Lebanon, Indianapolis, and Greenwood, Bedford, Martinsville, and Plainfield.
     "I am here today to show my support for the World War II Merchant Marines and House Resolution 23-The Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2005.  Congressman Bob Filner of California is the sponsor.  He has been recently described by the Union Tribune as "the veterans advocate." 
    "No one would describe Congressman Steve Buyer that way.  H.R. 23 has 258 Cosponsors in the House of Representatives including a majority of the members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee of which Congressman Buyer is Chairman.  Congressman Buyer is singlehandedly preventing a vote on the bill.  He will not let it out of his committee. He is abusing his power as Chairman.
    "Congressman Buyer was installed by Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert as Chairman to tell the veterans, and I'm quoting, "Enough is enough!"  His assault on their benefits and service organizations is unprecedented.
     "We are hoping that Congressman Buyer will be persuaded to change his mind and give in on H. R. 23.  But we are here today to honor the Merchant Marines-their service and their sacrifices.
     "I will share only two stories about the World War II Merchant Marines from among those I have read or that have been shared with me by the scores of Merchant Mariners who have contacted me.  One of them is a personal story."
     The first story concerned Edwin Joseph O'Hara, Engine Cadet Midshipman, and Joseph E. Layman, Second Mate on the SS Stephen Hopkins.  They were each posthumously awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal.
     "The second story concerns my father, who served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific in World War II.  When he shipped from Morotai to Leyte in the Philippines all of his belongings were on a Merchant Marine ship.  It was bombed by the Japanese in the harbor off Leyte.  All of his possessions were lost.  With one exception.  About eight months after he had shipped from Morotai one of his belongings was found on the beach and returned to him.  It was the prayer book that his father, my grandfather, gave to him on his 19th birthday.  Fortunately he had written his name on the inside cover.  It was the last birthday present that he received from his father who died of cancer of the esophagus half a year later.  I have the prayer book with me today.  It still bears water marks on its covers.  It is likely that Merchant Mariners gave their lives in the ship that bore this book.
     "These are the stories that convince me that it is essential that the service of the Merchant Marine in World War II be honored.  H.R. 23 is "just compensation."   
     "Congressman Buyer's strategy is to play off one group of veterans against another and military retirees against veterans.  This will not and cannot succeed.  Veterans must stand united to demand the benefits that they have jointly earned through their service to this country.
    "Congressman Buyer is torpedoing this bill and the World War II Merchant Marines and is waiting for them to die.  This shameful behavior must cease.  Steve Buyer needs to be discharged, and with your support we will accomplish this task this November."    
      Dr. Sanders is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University.  His expertise concerns gene therapy, cancer research, biodefense, and pandemic influenza.  His research on the Ebola virus led to his participation in the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Program.   His responsibilities included inspecting a formerly secret bioweapons laboratory in Siberia.  David Sanders' three boys, Honi, Akiva, and Yinnon Sanders attend the West Lafayette public schools.


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