My uncle did not like to talk about it, but he saw ships torpedoed, men on fire, and lifeboats full of men who could not be rescued. There were strict orders not to stop and take on survivors because to do so disrupted the convoy and invited further attack. The US Merchant Marine had an astonishingly high casualty rate in WW II. Promises of veterans benefits that were pledged during the war to keep the ships manned were never fulfilled.
In 1977,1988 laws were enacted that extended some veteran benefits to merchant marine sailors that had sailed during WWII. It was not full recognition, but it helped some of those men.