Veteran Stories:
Michael Kucher

Merchant Navy

  • Letter of recognition to Michael Kucher signed by Harry Truman, 1946.

  • Honourable Discharge certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard/ Merchant Marines, Aug. 1945.

  • Discharge details, 1943-45.

  • Letter from the Ministry of Defence, UK, 1945.

  • Photograph of Passport - Stamped 'Department of Transport' - Vancouver, 1942.

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"If you were there and you saw all those ships! It was unbelievable! Everything that you can think of. Aircraft carriers. Destroyers. Everything."

Transcript

My name is Michael Kucher. I wanted to join the Navy. But I had three uncles in the Navy already and they talked me out of it. They said “If you want to sail and see the world, be in the Merchant Navy.” After the fifth trip, that includes…that I never had any time off, so they said, “Kucher, were going to send you to Vancouver. But you could have one week holiday and go through Winnipeg, your hometown, but you have to be there at a certain date, you have to be there on that ship.” Well on that ship was also a big big Park ship called the “Coronation Parkway.” We didn’t load anything in Vancouver. Nothing. We were sent to Portland, Oregon. That’s just down the coast, on the west shore. When we got there, we started loading up all American stuff. Medicine. Food. Ammunition. Vehicles. Everything that you can think of. And on the big crates, everything was marked Australia. So that’s where we thought we were going. Three days out at sea, we started changing course. In the evening, you can see the stars, and we were going more to the east. We went to Dutch New Guinea into a big big bay called Hollendia Bay. If you were there and you saw all those ships! It was unbelievable! Everything that you can think of. Aircraft carriers. Destroyers. Everything. We got there, we dropped anchor and we had to wait. Four days later, we pulled up anchor and we started pulling out. We wondered where we were going. And we thought “Well, looks like this is an invasion or something.” It was going to be the invasion of the Philippines, when MacArthur was going. We got there and there were lots of fireworks going on. We pulled through all right. We unloaded and then we had to load up again with all American stuff to take it back to the States, to San Francisco. Stuff that was broken, personal things of soldiers and airmen and everything like that. This is a letter that I got from Harry Truman for making a trip on this convoy. It says, “To you who answered the call of your country and served in the Merchant Marine, to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend the heartfelt thanks of the nation. You undertook the most severe task, one which called for courage and fortitude. Because of your demonstrated resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out the task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further serving our country in peace. Harry Truman. The White House."
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