The Forgotten Heroes: The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine

The Forgotten Heroes: The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine

by Brian Herbert

Paperback(First Edition)

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The United States Merchant Marine has a tradition-from the Revolutionary War to the present-day Gulf conflicts-of being in the forefront of every American military action. They have served with distinction in every case. Brian Herbert has chronicled the amazing exploits of these gallant seamen, assembling a fascinating array of data to describe the world of the Merchant Marine in peace and especially in war.

Drawing from historical documents, government records, diaries, and interviews with surviving veterans, Herbert has constructed a brilliant history that details the heroism, self-sacrifice, and grim determination that have been the hallmark of the United States Merchant Marine. He also reveals one of the great injustices of American history-the grave failure of our legislators that has allowed the veterans of the Merchant Marine to become the forgotten heroes of World War II.

The civilian fighters of the Merchant Marine performed feats of extraordinary bravery during World War II; they were the lifeline of the entire Allied war effort, delivering troops, materiel, food, fuel, and every essential needed for victory over the Axis enemy. While executing these duties, the Merchant Marine suffered losses so high that the casualty rates were kept secret.

At the war's end, the men and women of every other branch of the service were honored with parades and given medical and educational benefits. But the members of the Merchant Marine, who were so vital to our victory, have received neither the benefits nor the recognition they deserved. New York Times bestselling author Brian Herbert is part of the growing movement across the United States to right this terrible wrong.

The Forgotten Heroes is a history of the unsung heroes of the United States Merchant Marine and a plea for justice for these neglected veterans of World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765307071
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 05/01/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.34(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

Brian Herbert, the son of Frank Herbert, is a multiple New York Times bestseller in his own right. He is the winner of several literary honors and has been nominated for the Nebula Award. His critically acclaimed science fiction novels include Sidney's Comet, Sudanna Sudanna, The Race for God, and Man of Two Worlds (written with Frank Herbert). In 2003, he published Dreamer of Dune, a biography of his illustrious father.

Read an Excerpt

The Forgotten Heroes

The Heroic Story of the United States Merchant Marine
By Herbert, Brian

Forge Books

Copyright © 2005 Herbert, Brian
All right reserved.

Dreams of Glory
In no other trade or calling can you discover such men who have been tempered and formed by their daily environment, the sea.
* * *
ONE OF THE YOUNGEST OFFICERS TO SERVE IN THE U.S. MERCHANT MARINE DURing World War Two was Dean E. Beaumont--a remarkable man, who inspired this work and contributed many of the stories. In his late seventies today, he can invariably be seen wearing his blue-and-gold Merchant Marine cap. A tireless promoter of the cause of neglected merchant seamen, he will tell you of the sacrifices of his fellows in the war, and how they were abandoned and scorned afterward. He is working to get national legislation passed on their behalf, and is in touch with some of the most important political leaders in our country. But it is a difficult, uphill battle.
Dean has a ready smile and an outgoing, engaging personality that is surprising, considering the political obstacles he has faced, and the personal hardships he went through in World War Two, when he almost lost his life more than once. He will tell you about those perilous times, but the words come with difficulty, filled with emotion and sincerity.
He is also quick to say, "I am not a hero. Others did more than I did, had it worse than I did." That may betrue, but his story is one of personal valor and sacrifice--not only for what he did during the war, but for his leadership today on political battlefields, beyond the age when most people retire.
Like Will Rogers, Dean always tries to see the good in people. He is the son of the renowned artist Arthur Beaumont (1890-1978), who is widely considered the unofficial "Artist Laureate" of the United States Navy. I also am the son of a very famous man, Frank Herbert (1920-1986), who wrote the most-admired novel in science-fiction history, Dune (1965).* Both Dean and I inherited artistic legacies, and we continue to work hard to promote the works and concepts of our fathers. While I write best-selling Dune series novels (with Kevin J. Anderson), Dean promotes his father's works by speaking about him all over the world and by arranging to donate the valuable paintings to worthy individuals and institutions.
Arthur Beaumont's paintings are exhibited at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Pentagon, the White House, and the Smithsonian Institution. 2 They are also on display at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. His extraordinary paintings have been praised by Prince Charles of England, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Her Majesty Queen Fredrika of Greece--to list just a few. Arthur Beaumont was named one of the greatest watercolor artists of all time, and has been listed in Who's Who in America.
Born near Norwich, England, in 1890, Arthur Beaumont was the son of a British Army surgeon. Emigrating to Canada in 1909, and to the United States the following year, Arthur, who assumed the nickname "Beau," always retained his strong British accent. He was six foot two and slender, with black hair and brown eyes. He had a warm, generous personality and a strong moral sense--character traits that were passed on to his son, Dean. Beau studied at the Mark Hopkins School of Art at Berkeley, and at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. His talents would eventually lead him to advanced studies in London and in Paris, where he became a member of the distinguished Académie Julian.
As a youth Beau worked for the Miller and Lux cattle ranch in central California, one of the largest spreads in the world. In two and a half years of rugged outdoor work, he rose to the position of "assistant superintendent of ranch hands." That career ended when he was shot and left for dead by cattle rustlers, resulting in a long period of hospital recuperation. 3 Before that horrendous event, Arthur Beaumont had painted numerous scenes of cowboys and horses reminiscent of the work of Frederic Remington, and he had been gaining considerable notice as an artist.4
During the 1920s, Arthur Beaumont made a modest living doing artwork for magazines and teaching the craft. He and his wife Dorothy had two of their eventual four children in that decade: Phyllis (1922) and Dean (1924). The family rented an old house at 1809 Oak Street in Los Angeles, near Figueroa Street and Washington Boulevard. Dean would remember the address for the rest of his life, because "1809" was the same year Abraham Lincoln was born.
Dean remembers his mother, Dorothy, as a sweet, intelligent woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. On a par intellectually with her erudite husband, Dorothy studied at UCLA during the early years of her marriage and earned a master's degree in education; afterward, she taught English at John Burroughs Junior High School, and then at Los Angeles High School. A devout Christian, Dorothy frequently used biblical stories to counsel her children. Over a career spanning forty years, she never took a day off from work, and eventually became a superintendent for the city school system.
By 1932, Arthur Beaumont was beginning to make a name for himself as a portrait and naval artist. That year, Admiral William D. Leahy of the U.S. Navy granted him a commission as a "reserve lieutenant," a position in which Beau would regularly provide paintings for the naval service. Such an appointment was a new concept, but Leahy was a man of wide-ranging vision, and felt that the pictures would be valuable to historians in the future, after the ships went out of commission, as all of them inevitably did.
In 1933 a very unusual event occurred. While the artist worked at his easel, which he had set up on a dock where he could get a good view of a naval vessel, he was approached by a tall man in baggy clothes. The fellow appeared to be a young derelict, with long hair and an unshaven face. Upon seeing the quality of the painting, the man offered several thousand dollars for it. Beaumont smiled and replied, "Sure. We have a deal." As they shook hands, he expected the man to go away and never come back again. Later in the day, however, just as Beau was putting his supplies away, the man came back and handed over a thick wad of cash for the painting. They shook hands again, and this time the man provided his name: Howard Hughes.
Unfortunately, money management was not one of Arthur Beaumont's strengths. He was, like my own father, Frank Herbert, highly creative, but paid little attention to finances. Dean Beaumont's family was not living in a very good neighborhood at the time and his father didn't want him to go to the public school. But it was all they could afford.
Even with all of his later fame, Arthur Beaumont never would become a wealthy man, though he did learn how to trade his paintings for valuable services. In 1934 he made a deal with the Harvard School, a military academy in Los Angeles. Every year he would paint a picture of the school president, and in exchange was given a year's tuition for Dean to attend the prestigious school. At the age of ten, the boy began to attend the academy. He had to dress up every day in a blue or tan uniform, with a tie and hat.
A short while later, the Beaumonts moved to a larger house, at 816 South St. Andrews Place, near Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. This was a large old house in a much nicer neighborhood, and was closer to Dean's school.
The young man enjoyed hearing the stories his father told about growing up in England and working on a cattle ranch. Dean especially liked to accompany the tall, studious man on weekends, when his father went to the U.S. Navy base at Long Beach, where ships were anchored near the breakwater. There, Arthur Beaumont painted watercolors of naval ships and oil portraits of officers. Frequently they went aboard big battleships, including the USS Arizona.
Eventually Dean could identify ships from a distance. Many battleships (such as the USS West Virginia, the Colorado, and the Tennessee) had basket masts. In contrast, the USS New Mexico and Idaho had been modernized and were completely different. The Arizona and its sister ship, the USS Oklahoma, had big tripod masts; the Arizona had an upper mast above the fire-control station that was painted black, while the Oklahoma's was painted gray instead. Dean soon knew all of the ships' unique features.
The old house on South St. Andrews Place was spacious, with a maids' quarters in the rear--what might be called a "granny flat" today. Normally, the Beaumont family could not afford a house-cleaner, and Dean's mother Dorothy did most of the work, in addition to holding down her full-time job as a teacher. On the one occasion when they did use an outside service, the hired woman was cleaning Arthur's art studio and accidentally stuck a broom handle through a 4- by 5-foot oil painting of the Navy cruiser USS Los Angeles that was sitting on an easel. The painting--99 percent complete at the time--was needed for the opening of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, so Beau had to perform quick repairs to finish it in time for the ceremonies.*
Despite his inherent good nature, Dean's father could be grumpy on occasion, when interrupted in his studio. One time, Arthur Beaumont answered the phone and told the caller, "This is the world's greatest artist and you've called at just the wrong moment." 5
As a child Dean developed asthma, which he blamed on a couple of factors: At the age of two, he'd had a large white cat that he loved. He used to hold the animal and rub his face in its fur. In addition, the family moved a number of times, invariably into large, dusty houses.
During his formative years, the boy's medical condition worsened until it bothered him severely two or three days a week. Dean lost sleep, and, when the attacks got really bad, he missed school, sometimes one day a week. This chronic debility would adversely affect him when the Second World War began, making him ineligible to join the armed forces and leaving him with only one option to serve his country--as a civilian volunteer in the United States Merchant Marine.
*Throughout the writings of Frank Herbert, there is a recurring ocean theme. In Dune, it takes the form of vast deserts with dunes like the waves of a great sea, and monsters beneath the sand that are worse than anything Ahab ever faced in Moby-Dick. in an early novel, The Dragon in the Sea (1955). Frank Herbert even "invented" containerized shipping; thus my family had a connection with the Merchant Marine long before I met Dean Beaumont and undertook the fascinating story of U.S. merchant seamen.
*Years later, the piece would grace the rotunda of Los Angeles City Hall. Somehow it disappeared after two decades there, when a thief cut it neartly out of its frame and spirited it away. While he was heartsick over the incident, Arthur Beaumont still managed to quip, "Well, there aren't that many artists that have a painting stolen from them. It must be a sign that I'm getting famous, if people want to steal my work."
Copyright 2004 by Brian Herbert


Excerpted from The Forgotten Heroes by Herbert, Brian Copyright © 2005 by Herbert, Brian. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

1Dreams of Glory19
2All the Ships at Sea25
3Stormy Waters30
4Reporting for Duty43
5War Crimes54
6The Battle of Saipan64
7Valor at Sea73
8Torpedo Run79
9The Russian Gauntlet90
10The Submarine Parade101
11The Helping Hands106
12The Leaky Lifeboat122
13Passage to India126
14Invasion Forces137
15Hurricane at Sea148
16The Darkest Days157
17The Cigarette Salesman165
18Not Covered!171
19They Earned Our Respect179
20Last Man to Stand190
21The Quest for Justice198
22Man on a Mission209
23Healing the Wounds213
Appendix 1Contact Information235
Appendix 2Seamen of the American Revolution239
Appendix 3Two Centuries of Service to America247
Appendix 4Arthur Beaumont: "Artist Laureate" of the U.S. Navy261

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