Edited by board administrator November 13, 2013, 11:18 am
In fact, the Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website was missing in action for several days recently. Let me explain what happened and then make an appeal to readers of this message board.
Project Liberty Ship in Baltimore, Maryland, has owned the Armed Guard website since 2007 when our good friend Tom Bowerman became too ill to continue as webmaster. Project Liberty Ship, of which I am a member, appointed me as webmaster, a role I have proudly filled ever since.
Recently Project Liberty Ship changed some of its financial operations, which involved opening new credit card accounts to pay its bills, including those for the Armed Guard website. Some confusion arose between Project Liberty Ship, our bank, and an Internet hosting company that supports the website. In the confusion, the hosting company, concerned that it had not received a payment from Project Liberty Ship, closed down the website. The situation has since been resolved and the Armed Guard website is back on line.
But this incident has caused some alarm within Project Liberty Ship and questions have been raised about the website, how much it costs, and what commitment Project Liberty Ship has to continue to fund the website. Project Liberty Ship is facing some extraordinary financial challenges in other areas (including a dry docking next year of Liberty ship SS JOHN W. BROWN that is expected to be extremely expensive) and the organization is taking a very hard look at all of its financial obligations.
This is the context for saying that, to use an old phrase, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The Armed Guard website and its associated message board are services for which someone has to pay. For many years Tom Bowerman paid the costs, largely from his own pocket, and at times it proved to be a serious financial burden to him. For the last six years Project Liberty Ship has paid the bill, offset by occasional donations from users, for which the Project is very grateful.
But to continue supporting the Armed Guard website, Project Liberty Ship would hope to be able to count on some reciprocal support from users of the website and message board. Currently it costs about $850 per year to maintain the Armed Guard website, the message board, and the search capability found within the website. That amount of money won't make or break Project Liberty Ship, but it, like many other expenditures, could possibly be redirected to other high-need areas such as the dry docking. There may also be ways to reduce the overall costs of the website, which Project Liberty Ship will be exploring.
But remember, the website is the source for your story, or the story of your comrades, or that of your father or grandfather or uncle. Or if not your personal story, it is the source for stories that represent the history of the Navy Armed Guard and the U.S. merchant marine during World War II. And the message board is a way to keep in touch with other Armed Guard and merchant marine veterans or their family members. In time, as our veterans pass on, the website may become the only easily accessible, public repository of the history of the Armed Guard and the wartime merchant marine. It is where your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and those of other Armed Guard and merchant marine veterans, will turn to answer a question like, "What did grandpa do during the war?"
I hasten to add that C.A. Lloyd, Chairman of the U.S.N. Armed Guard World War II Veterans Association, endeavors in a different way to maintain the history of the Armed Guard and their merchant marine colleagues, especially through publication of "The Pointer." (Note that the website and the veterans' association are different entities.) Like Tom Bowerman, C.A. keeps the association going largely out of his own pocket and needs your support as well. I don't know what C.A.'s costs are but I suspect they may greatly exceed those of the website.
So if you can do so, both Project Liberty Ship and C.A. Lloyd would appreciate your financial support from time to time, to maintain both the website and the veterans' association. See this webpage, http://www.armed-guard.com/donate.html, or the latest edition of "The Pointer" for information about how you can donate to either or both.
With great thanks and appreciation,
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website