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Editorial: After all these years

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking comments until March 18 on its proposal to protect a big part of “Battleground Atlantic”—areas off Cape Hatteras, N.C., where German subs sank dozens of U.S. merchant ships during World War II.

A survivor of that frightening period, Capt. Rodney Callis of Gwynn’s Island, told the Gazette-Journal in 1977, “It was a nightmare sailing this coast and the Caribbean” in the summer of 1942. “The Navy didn’t have the ships to convoy us, but we had a lot of air coverage …You’d run up and down the coast and it was not unusual to see four or five ships burning and their masts sticking out of the water. Sometimes you’d run through black slicks of oil for five hours.”

Unprotected American merchant ships were sitting ducks in the first months of World War II. During this period, hundreds of local men, especially from Mathews County, were part of the U.S. Merchant M...

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