Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August 2009, page 63

Human Rights

USS Liberty Crew Tries To Give Obama a Jacket

  • Rocky Sturman holds up President Barack Obama’s jacket, which he was not allowed to deliver (Staff photo D. Hanley).

FORTY-TWO years after Israel attacked the USSLiberty, survivors and friends gathered in Arlington Cemetery on Monday, June 8, 2009 to remember the heroes who were killed that day, those who have died in the intervening years, and the rest who still wait for justice from the government they all served. The annual memorial service is sponsored by the White House Commission on Remembrance, which provides programs to remember Americans killed in service or by acts of terrorism.

Later, Ernest A. Gallo, president of the USSLiberty Veterans Association and chairman of the Liberty Foundation, and other survivors presented a model of the spy ship to Rear Admiral Edward K. “Tad” Walker (ret.), on behalf of the U.S. Navy Memorial, in Washington, DC.

USS Liberty survivor Petty Officer Americo “Rick” Aimetti was only 19 when he earned a Purple Heart during the attack on his ship. He and his wife Joy talked about the psychological and physical toll survivors still face because they were forbidden to discuss the attack. A native of Long Island, NY, Aimetti also described a terrific interview he’d had on NBC’s “Today Show”—which was abruptly canceled before it could air.

For years survivors have asked and been denied a congressional hearing or investigation into the attack and subsequent U.S. cover-up. “I’m of Italian descent, but I’m American first,” Aimetti said. He can’t understand why Americans who work for U.S. media or government have more consideration for Israel than they do for American veterans, he said.

The Aimettis are proud of their work with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. They work to train young people from the Liberty (AGTR5), which has won the top rating in the country two years in a row. Their cadets are remembering and carrying on the legacy of the USSLiberty.

Finally, Rocky Sturman went to the White House to present a Liberty hat and memorial jacket to President Barack Obama and ask him to order a thorough and unbiased investigation of Israel’s attempt to sink the USS Liberty. He was turned away at the gate.

Delinda C. Hanley 

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