WWII veteran from Velva honored with Congressional Gold Medal

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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VELVA, N.D. (KFYR) - The sacrifices of all our World War II veterans cannot be overstated. Of those who served, merchant mariners had one of the more dangerous roles. They suffered one of the higher per-capita casualty rates among branches of the U.S. Armed Forces with approximately 9,300 mariners killed over the course of the war. In 2020, Congress approved legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the U.S. Merchant Marines. Now in Velva, one WWII veteran is honored for his service.

Gerald “Pat” Effertz is 97 years old. He’s a veteran of the Merchant Marines.

“We sailed mostly on Liberty ships,” said Effertz.

He says most people ask about the ship he deployed on in 1944. They were 400 feet long, 60 feet wide and traveled at about 11 knots as the supply line for the Allied Armies.

“But there wasn’t a lot of protection on the Liberty ships,” said Effertz.

Now as his family looks on, Effortz is thanked for his service.

“We are here today for a very, very special reason. And that is to recognize the American spirit and warriorship of one of our local veterans,” said Jim Davenport, McHenry County veteran service officer.

Sen. John Hoeven presented Effertz with the Congressional Gold Medal Tuesday.

The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ highest appreciation for Effertz’s courage, bravery, and contributions during the war.

“When Uncle Sam points and says, ‘I want you,’ and one of our service members raises their hand. Men and women, they’re signing the check for everything aren’t they,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND.

Gerald "Pat" Effertz with Sen. John Hoeven
Gerald "Pat" Effertz with Sen. John Hoeven(KFYR)

Effertz was honorably discharged in 1945.

Between the American Revolution and June 2021, 173 people, institutions, or events have received a Congressional Gold Medal.