The 34 sailors who died aboard the USS Liberty in 1967.

These sailors were cryptologic intercept operators, similar to what I did when I was in the Marine Corps, except aboard a ship that would travel to hotspots.

They were in international waters off Israel during the Six Days War.

The date was my birthday, June 8th, three years before I was born.

I almost hesitate to post about this, but it came up in the news today because a conspiracy theorist heckled John McCain at a Memorial Day ceremony. McCain called him a jerk, which was appropriate and funny. A great recovery and an appropriate reaction to the whackos who blame McCain and his father for the coverup.

What happened, and I will be stating some things as facts here that others challenge, is that the Israeli Air Force and Navy had the Liberty under surveillance for 9 hours (confirming it as an American vessel early on). After nine hours, the Israeli Air Force and Navy attacked the Liberty, killing 34 Sailors and wounding 174 out of 295.

This site is a factual, non-conspiratorial, not anti-semetic memorial to those men.

I first learned about the Liberty when I was working for the Center for Cryptologic History as a Marine Sergeant, research Radio Intelligence Platoons from World War II. I had just finished researching the 2nd RIP’s catastrophic tour during the invasion of Peleliu. They took 30% casualties and were subsequently disbanded. I mentioned this to a co-worker, thinking that it was the single worst attack on cryptologic troops. He responded oddly, just telling me to come with him. He took me to a memorial to the crew of the Liberty.

Let’s just say that moment informed my patriotism like none other. I, like most Americans, held a very possessive view of Israel. I grew up in a town in North Jersey that was about 1/3 Jewish, 1/3 Italian and then the rest of us.

I didn’t become a kook conspiracy theorist who became anti-semetic. I just realized that EVERY nation in the world has its own interests and will endeavor to advance them. As a Marine, those efforts often come at the cost of my brethren, or other services. Our strongest allies will consider us second, and a Marine’s  (or sailor’s)  life does not figure highly in their calculus unless they are in need.

Places like the Normandy graveyard or Iron Mike  are rare for their honest and persistent place in the hearts of those foreign nations that even have them. I would venture more French people know and respect the price Marines paid at Belleau Wood than Americans.

So I ask you to remember those sailors (who recieved a MOH, two Navy Crosses among many other awards) who died in the greatest catastrophe ever suffered by cryptologic troops. An attack by a supposed ally, coming when unexpected. I don’t try to figure out why the Israelis did it, and no more hold it emotionally against the state of Israel than I hold an irrational grudge against Japan for Wake Island in 1941 or the Bataan Death March.

But we can’t forget them, as much as it would be politically convenient to do so. Because they died for you just as much as those militiamen at Lexington and Concord, or Spec. Aaron D Fields, who was killed by Taliban last week.

USS Liberty, Napalmed, Rocketed, Bombed, Torpedoed, Machine-Gunned.

 

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