VELVA, N.D. (KXNET) — A North Dakota Native has now been recognized for his service to his country by receiving an award for World War II veterans.

World War II U.S. Marine Merchant Veteran Pat Effertz from Velva enlisted in 1943 and deployed in 1944 as a second-class engineer responsible for the cargo ship’s oil.

Merchant Mariners were a key factor in the war as they transported soldiers, vehicles, and equipment.

With very little defense on the ships, kamikazes were a huge threat at all times.

“There were only about 36 crew members and there were about 20 armed guards that maintained the guns and operate the guns but there wasn’t a lot of protection on the liberty ship we used escorts and those types of things to protect us,” said WII2 veteran, Pat Effertz.

Senator Hoeven co-sponsored legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the U.S. Merchant Marines from World War II.

Congress approved this legislation and sign it into law in 2020.

Throughout World War II, around 9,000 mariners were killed, making it one of the highest casualty rates per-capita among all branches at the time.

Senator Hoeven was in attendance and saluted the men and women, both active and former members of our armed forces.

“This is a combat that’s for 20 years we’ve been fighting this war and territory and we send them to all these different countries and all these different environments and ask them to do all these different things. It’s really an amazing thing when you think about the caliber and the capacity of our men and women in uniform,” added North Dakota Senator, John Hoeven.

There have been 173 people, institutions, and events that have received the Congressional Gold Medal.