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Merchant mariners donate to Marine charity

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WASHINGTON, (USTCNS) --- The crew of the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command roll-on/roll-off ship USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat donated $1,000 in honor of the ship’s namesake to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, a non-profit organization that provides grants to the families of wounded Marines and Sailors who are struggling to make ends meet while helping their injured loved one recover.

USNS Wheat is one of MSC's 16 civilian-crewed, noncombatant Maritime Prepositioning Ships that boost combat readiness by strategically prepositioning U.S. Marine Corps combat cargo and equipment at sea. The ship is named for Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat, who received the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save the lives of two of his fellow Marines while serving in Vietnam.

The 864-foot ship is crewed by commercial mariners who work for a ship operating company under contract to MSC. The crew received a $1,000 cash award from their employer, Keystone Shipping Co., for conducting accident-free operations over the past year.

Instead of purchasing items such as exercise equipment and books to improve the quality of life aboard ship, Wheat’s 31 crew members voted unanimously to donate the cash award to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

“The crew simply felt that the cash award would be of more benefit to injured Marines. Although we are merchant mariners, we feel a certain kinship with the Marines we serve,” said Capt. Horace R. Jordan, Wheat’s master. “The work that the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund does in providing assistance to wounded Marines and their families is especially endearing.”

MSC operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships at sea, chart ocean bottoms, conduct undersea surveillance, preposition combat cargo at sea and move equipment and supplies for the U.S. military.

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