Merchant Marine Memorial


American Merchant Marine Memorial

The memorial is located in the Hudson River just west of Battery Park. Designed by sculptor Marison Escobar, it depicts four merchant seamen and their sinking vessel – the S.S. Muskogee – after being attacked by a German U-boat. The fourth man is in the water and is only visible when the tide is out. According to Wikipedia, the sculpture is based on a photo taken by the U-boat commander who attacked and sunk the S.S. Muskogee. All of the American crew died at sea.

This beautiful photo was taken by Raul Garcia Peñalver and found on Flickr.

The World War II Museum in New Orleans has recently opened the US Merchant Marine Gallery that helps tell the story of these mariners who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific transporting supplies, weapons and men to the warfront.


Capt. Joseph P. Killebrew

Capt. Killebrew (back row, no hat) and his crew pose in front of their B-29 Superfortress.

Capt. Killebrew (back row, no hat) and his crew pose in front of their B-29 Superfortress.

The 770th Bombardment Squadron was established in 1943 as one of the new B-29 squadrons. Crews were trained in Kansas while the new aircraft were being completed. In 1944, the squadron was deployed to an airfield in central China where they would stage the first attacks on Japanese Home Islands since the 1942 Doolittle Raid.

One of those raids took place on November 21, 1944. The target was an aircraft factory in Omura on the island of Kyushu. It was the first time the squadron had encountered strong opposition from the Japanese. Two B-29s were confirmed losses and another – Capt. Killebrew’s aircraft – was a presumed loss. Almost 40 Japanese fighter aircraft were destroyed and more damaged.

Capt. Killebrew and his crew were officially listed as Missing in Action. This would be changed to Killed in Action after the Japanese surrender. He left behind a wife, Marjorie, and 5-month old daughter, Emily Link. It would take another 60 years for the family to learn that the aircraft had crashed into the sea just off Kyushu. Parts of the wreckage were salvaged and all the bodies were recovered and buried on the beach.