Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 2007, page 61
USS Liberty Ceremony at Navy Memorial
USS Liberty survivors and friends at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC (Staff photo S. Rhodin).
SURVIVORS OF Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty gathered at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC on June 8 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the attack, which killed 34 American soldiers and injured 172 others. Speakers included Page Harrington, from the Navy memorial; Glen Oliphant,Liberty survivor andvice president of the USS Liberty Veterans’ Association (USS-LVA); fellowLiberty survivor and USS-LVA president Ernie Gallo; attorney Peter Viering; and former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck. Ambassador Peck and Viering read statements by Ambassador James Akins, a member of the 2003 Independent Commission of Inquiry headed by the late Admiral Thomas Moorer; by Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, former Navy judge advocate general and also member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry; by Captain Ward Boston, former senior counsel to 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry; and by former Congressman Paul Findley.
Following the presentation of colors by Navy officers, the speakers made brief statements expressing grief for the deaths and injuries caused by the attacks, gratitude toward the Liberty crew for their service and search to find the truth, and demanding a full congressional investigation of the attacks and the subsequent White House actions. Addressing the gathering, Gallo noted that “’wounded’ is a subjective word. Some heal quickly and others do not. We are talking about the crew who were predominately in their early 20s. We have a few who became completely disabled. Others have suffered early divorces, sleepless nights, night sweats, nightmares, and post traumatic stress disorder.”
Gallo and other speakers expressed anger toward the U.S. government for continuing to cover up Israel’s “deliberate and planned” attack on the ship. In his letter, read by Viering, Paul Findley pointed blame toward the U.S. leadership at the time of the attacks. President Lyndon Johnson “ordered the rescue mission aborted and an immediate official cover-up of Israel’s bloody outrage,” Findley wrote, adding that it’s “a cover-up that still prevails.”
Stated Ambassador Peck: “It is totally unacceptable that...our government has steadfastly refused to permit the survivors of the deadliest attack on a Navy ship since WWII to tell properly constituted official investigators what happened on that fateful day.”
Following the statements, Oliphant read the names of the 34 soldiers who died in the attack, as a bell was rung for each name. Harrington accompanied two officers to place a wreath in front of a bronze sailor on the memorial grounds.