Merchant Marine here and elsewhere
From the PG in 2004: Unsung Heroes of World War II: Seamen of the Merchant Marine still struggle for recognition. That piece actually spurred me to send in a letter to the editor which wasn't printed at the time. If I can find it I will append it here later.
Also, not to steal Jason T's thunder, but his brief history of the SS Mckeesport is a good read as well.
and while the threats have morphed the dangers have not. My father served as a member of the Naval Armed Guard in WWII.
and I know a few, though none in town these days. I wonder how many Pittsburghers are alumni of any of the Merchant Marine academies.