40TH ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERTY ATTACK
Many brave witnesses tell their tales; Operation Cyanide source dies in crash
By Mark Glenn
This past June 8 marked the 40th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty by the air and naval forces of the state of Israel, resulting in the deaths of 34 American servicemen and a cover-up that has been maintained throughout the entire period.
In remembrance of the day that—for many—will always be a day that will live in infamy, the Liberty Veterans Association (LVA) organized a reunion that included several ceremonies marking the event. Owing to the fact that American Free Press has been covering the Liberty incident throughout the months of April and May, the LVA invited America’s last real newspaper to attend as a special guest.
The ceremonies began on Friday, June 8, with a trip to Arlington national cemetery to honor the Liberty dead buried there. Although it was a blazing hot day and the humidity was high, the heat did not deter these men who have sworn to protect America from all enemies foreign and domestic from doing their duties, just as the rockets and napalm did not deter them 40 years ago on June 8 1967, when the ship was attacked.
The crowd of about 300 was addressed by various speakers, including incoming-president of the LVA and Liberty veteran Ernie Gallo, who spoke of the ultimate sacrifice paid by those interred in the hallowed ground
of America’s most important cemetery.
During the ceremony, as in years past, each of the members took turns approaching the mass grave holding the remains of six crew members killed that day.
They saluted and then announced the name of one of the 34 members who perished. After the last name was read, a bugler in a white naval uniform played Taps in respectful remembrance of the dead.
From there the group went by bus to the Fort Myer Officer’s Club for a luncheon and small presentation and for a much-needed break from the heat and humidity.
It was wind-down time for the attendees as they mingled from table to table, shaking hands or hugging shipmates they have not seen in many years. Some stayed in the air-conditioned room; some wandered outside for a smoke.
From there they boarded the buses again and headed for the Naval Memorial in downtown Washington on Pennsylvania Avenue. All took their seats and listened to a series of speeches from several individuals associated directly or indirectly with the LVA, including shipmate Glen Oliphant and former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck who spoke of the injustice that the men of the Liberty endured in the cover-up of Israel’s attack these last four decades.
Again, the names of the Liberty victims were recited aloud and a bell was wrung following the recital of each name. Afterward, a wreath was laid at the Statue of the Unknown Sailor and Taps was played to a silent and somber crowd. Following this, the crowd was invited to view the DVD documentary on the Liberty incident by BBC investigative journalist Peter Hounam at a location nearby.
Afterward the ceremonies ended for the day and everyone returned to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Tyson’s Corner, Va., where a goodly number of the crew members gathered in the bar on the second floor, threw back a few beers and talked.
The next day began with a trip to the Annapolis Naval Academy in Maryland where a plaque was presented by that institution in honor of the three graduates from the academy—Philip Armstrong, David Lewis and Stephen Toth—who were on the USS Liberty during the attack.
The ceremony featured speeches from educators from the academy and a very emotional invocation and benediction by former Chaplain George Evans. The plaque was accepted by Lt. Com. Dave Lewis who was the intelligence officer on board the Liberty and a graduate of the academy as well. After the ceremony a traditional American lunch was served at the academy consisting of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and, of course, beer. Once the attendees had their stomachs filled, all boarded the bus for the trip back to Virginia.
The bus ride back afforded the best opportunity in seeing the members of the Liberty crew in a manner up close and personal. They sat in the back just as they would have in the mess hall of the ship that day, telling jokes, teasing each other and talking of trivial matters. It was when the talk turned to politics though, politics past and present, when it became obvious that these were no longer young men who had not seen the world at its worst.
Beginning on June 8, 1967, and continuing every day since, they had learned how politics in the Zionist-occupied territory known as the United States works and had paid dearly during that schooling process. You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. It was clear in the expressions that their faces made when speaking of it all—the betrayal 40 years ago by the same government they swore to serve, the hatred for the people who subjected them to a living hell on Earth when missiles, torpedoes and napalm were hurled against their ship for over an hour.
That evening, the last of the ceremonies took place, which was the banquet.
A wonderful meal was served and there were addresses from several crew members of the Liberty.
However, most importantly, a member of the U.S. intelligence community, who insisted that his speech not be recorded nor his name mentioned, confirmed what the members of the Liberty have known all along: Israel’s attack on their ship 40 years ago was neither an accident nor a case of mistaken identity, as Israel has claimed all along.
He had the highest clearance in the U.S. government and had seen all the raw intelligence dealing with the attack. He was able to confirm conclusively that Israel knew the ship was American and that it was Israel’s
intention to sink her that day and kill everyone aboard. At the end of the three-day ceremony, what the casual observer was left to conclude is that the Liberty boys exemplify the best of what America once was and could be again—loyalty, devotion and the will to fight to the very end, despite all that is brought to bear against them.
This casual observer has no doubt about the fact that the men from the USS Liberty will fight to the last man to keep the memory of what happened 40 years ago alive. In the finest tradition of the U.S. Navy, they will do all in their power to protect America from all enemies foreign and domestic, just as they did on June 8, 1967, and have every day since.
A former schoolteacher fluent in several languages, Mark Glenn spoke at the AFP-TBR conference on the Middle East panel. He is a prolific writer whose provocative essays have been published worldwide. He and his wife Vicki and their eight children maintain a ranch in northern Idaho. His book, No Beauty in the Beast, can be ordered from TBR BOOK CLUB (1-877-773-9077) for $28 ppd.
(Issue #26, June 25, 2007)