Lawrence Robert Sweeney

Branch

WW II Merchant Marines

Birth

May 3, 1918

Death

December 28, 1970

War Served

World War II

Due to the creation of the War Shipping Administration by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 250,000 merchant sailors became U.S. government employees and were pressed into combat-type duty during WWll. The ships sailed through dangerous waters to deliver to the troops supplies, food, aircraft, gasoline, oil, guns, shells, vehicles, tanks, bombs, ammunition, medicine, equipment, and needed materials for war. They played a critical logistical role in the war and were on the front lines subject to attack by bombers, kamikaze, battleships, submarines, and land-based artillery. Larry joined the Merchant Marines before World War II. When the war came, he was on ships torpedoed more than once, including a time stranded at sea on a lifeboat for seven days before being rescued. Finding it difficult to live ashore, he preferred the isolation and security of a ship with small living quarters and spent the bulk of his life on the water. He was licensed to go out as a First, Second, or Third Engineer but preferred not having the responsibility of running the engines as a First. He was either on the Lakes or the Ocean for most of his life. Summers and Fall were on Ore boats working the Great Lakes, and from Winter to early Spring, he shipped out on larger vessels sailing the ocean. The only exceptions were short, unsuccessful stints on land with him trying to keep a “regular” job. He was quite artistic, with a voice made for the radio, a talent for writing, and a love of poetry and beauty. But following the war, he lived a troubled, conflicted, and tumultuous life fighting a battle with personal demons that he would never win.

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