MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – It's probably not that often something gets approved on the spot in government.
However, a wartime memorial did and it's being unveiled today at Warbird Park in Myrtle Beach.
The new memorial is dedicated to the American Merchant Marines of past and present, but especially those who served in the Korean War and World War II. The memorial has been made possible by the John T. Schmidt South Carolina Palmetto Merchant Mariners Club of Myrtle Beach.
Merchant marines have been around since the Revolution, but their war efforts aren't always as recognized. They're also called mariners and are the people who lead merchant ships to deliver supplies, ammunition and troops to the war fronts.
Merchant marines have struggled for veteran status since the end of World War II when President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill. Roosevelt promised the mariners veteran status because without them, the military wouldn't have the supplies and ammo to fight wars. Mariners are still fighting for their veteran's rights.
There aren't many mariners from World War II and the Korean War left, including the Palmetto club's founding mariner John Schmidt. His son, Tom Schmidt, became president of the local club when he passed away in 2014. Tom knew he needed to do something for the mariners here so they could see their service remembered.
"We're happy to say that we finally have this and it's not about my dad or anybody like that, it's all about the merchant marine veterans, and this is for them, not only here in the myrtle Beach area, but across the country," Tom Schmidt said.
The unveiling starts at 10:30 a.m. in Warbird Park off Farrow Parkway. The organizers say to bring a lawn chair, and veterans should arrive at 10 a.m. A letter from Governor Nikki Haley will be read and local leaders including Mayor John Rhodes and Representative Tom Rice will be in attendance.