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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2008 arrow January 16, 2008

January 16, 2008
WAWA Blog January 16, 2008: Disrespecting the Troops, the McCain's and Hillary
8th in the USS LIBERTY Series: "It Was God That Kept Us Alive"



On January 12, 2008, this civilian journalist "on a mission from God" [Jake Blues/John Belushi] once again phoned a few of the USS LIBERTY survivors and also Robert Hart, who on that day in infamy, June 8, 1967 was a CT/Communications Technician 2nd Class Petty Officer working for the Director of Naval Security Group Europe (DIRNAVSECGRUEUR) in London. DIRNAVSECGRUEUR was the Intelligence support for the Four Star Commander in Chief of US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR).

Hart quipped, "During the attack on the LIBERTY, I was in the control center of the DIRNAVSECGRUEUR, a part of the Commander of Chief in Europe who was Admiral McCain-you know the Senator's father? I wouldn't buy a used car from either of them!"

Hart then went serious and choked up, "Two of my friends were killed that day. They were both CT's and the CT spaces took the direct hit from the torpedo [that immediately killed 25 servicemen]. Smitty had an English wife and an eighteen month old baby and they were neighbors and friends. Warren Hershey was a drinking buddy of mine.

"I was in the Control Center when the LIBERTY was attacked and read all the messages from the USA to Europe. I knew the 6th Fleet was sending help and it was called back! I knew all about the LIBERTY calling for support that was held back! That is what sticks in my jaw. I was and remain dumbfounded and upset to this very day.

"I am also sure it is a part of the USA government cover-up the way they gave McGonagle his Medal of Honor in a shipyard and not at the White House."

Captain William L. McGonagle's Congressional Medal of Honor reads:

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to Captain William L. McGoanagle, United States Navy for service as set forth in the following:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sailing in international waters, the Liberty was attacked without warning by jet fighter aircraft and motor torpedo boats which inflicted many casualties among the crew and caused extreme damage to the ship. Although severely wounded during the first air attack, Capt. McGonagle remained at his battle station on the badly damaged bridge and, with full knowledge of the seriousness of his wounds, subordinated his own welfare to the safety and survival of his command.

Steadfastly refusing any treatment which would take him away from his post, he calmly continued to exercise firm command of his ship. Despite continuous exposure to fire, he maneuvered his ship, directed its defense, supervised the control of flooding and fire, and saw to the care of the casualties. Captain McGonagle's extraordinary valor under these conditions inspired the surviving members of the Liberty's crew, many of them seriously wounded, to heroic efforts to overcome the battle damage and keep the ship afloat. Subsequent to the attack, although in great pain and weak from the loss of blood, Captain McGonagle remained at his battle station and continued to command his ship for more than 17 hours. It was only after rendezvous with a U.S. destroyer that he relinquished personal control of the Liberty and permitted himself to be removed from the bridge. Even then, he refused much needed medical attention until convinced that the seriously wounded among his crew had been treated. Captain McGonagle's superb professionalism, courageous fighting spirit, and valiant leadership saved his ship and many lives. His actions sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/wlmcgon.htm


The Captain died on March 3, 1999, but the support from his troops never has. On April 10, 1999 the ambushed crew saluted its Captain by writing:


"…Yesterday, the faithful survivors brought their long-dead comrades at Arlington National Cemetery the body of their captain -- a reunion of seamen eternally bound by one of the most bloody and bizarre peacetime encounters in U.S. naval history.

"Captain William L. McGonagle won the Medal of Honor for valiantly commanding the USS Liberty when the American spy ship was attacked by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats in the Mediterranean during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

"Thirty-four U.S. sailors were killed, and 171, including McGonagle, were wounded, among the crew of 300. [Other sources site 174 and 297]  Thirteen of the dead -- including the remains of six in the mass grave at the bottom of the hill -- were buried at Arlington.

"The Israelis later apologized. But Liberty survivors, and some former U.S. officials, believe the attack was deliberate, staged to conceal Israel's pending seizure of the Golan Heights, which occurred shortly thereafter." [IBID]

In an email from USS LIBERTY survivor and author of ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY, James E. Ennes, wrote on January 13, 2008: "I'm not at all sure that is the reason.  We may never know the reason.  The US was aware of Israeli plans to seize the Golan and was urging them not to do that.  It could well have been fear that we had learned of the massacre of Egyptians POWs at El Arish or it could have been the massacre that morning of UN peacekeepers at Gaza."

"…In December 1964, the Liberty was put to work as a spy ship. Three years later, with McGonagle now in command, it was hurried to the eastern Mediterranean, where the Arab-Israeli war had erupted. Despite the deep concerns of McGonagle and his crew about their proximity to the war, the ship, armed only with a few .50-caliber machine guns, began a slow patrol 12 miles off Gaza. 


"The Liberty, code-named "Rockstar," had been denied the protection of a destroyer by superiors who said it was "not a reasonable subject for attack,"…about 2 p.m., after being buzzed by Israeli scout planes, the ship suddenly was assailed by Israeli jets firing rockets and dropping napalm.
"Liberty sailors were gunned down as they scrambled for cover. The machine gun crews were tossed into the air like dolls. Flaming napalm blanketed parts of the ship. Sailors radioed frantically: 'Any station, this is Rockstar. We are under attack.'


"Then, after several passes by the jets, the torpedo boats arrived. After several misses, one struck home, blasting a 40-foot-wide hole below decks and killing 25 men almost instantly. All the while, McGonagle, his right leg riddled with shrapnel, maintained command, hollering orders…


"In one of the most controversial events in U.S. military history, the lightly armed Liberty was attacked by Israeli planes, three torpedo boats and helicopters and was bombed with napalm, torpedoed and shelled on June 8, 1967, while sailing in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.


"Of the 294 men aboard the Liberty, 34 were killed and 171, including Captain McGonagle, were wounded. Though the captain managed to dodge four of five torpedoes, one struck, smashing a 40-foot hole in the ship's side." [IBID]

In an email from Jim Ennes: "The updated wounded count is 174 and three more Purple Hearts have been awarded since the 171 number was reported…I don't think he dodged anything.  I think they simply missed. A 450 foot ship moving at five knots doesn't do much dodging."


"A total of 821 rocket and machine-gun holes were later counted in Liberty's hull. Captain McGonagle had shrapnel wounds in his leg. The attack, which occurred during the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab states, was blamed by the Israelis on a mistaken identification…


"The events, shrouded in tragedy and conflict, have never been resolved. Many of those aboard the Liberty, as well as many senior U.S. officials have taken issue with the Israeli version of events. Some have accused both the U.S. and Israeli governments of concealing vital information about the incident…


"… McGonagle…held his silence for years, torn by loyalty to the Navy and love for his crew and his ship. But even he, in recent years, came to conclude the attack was deliberate…"For many years I have wanted to believe that the attack on the Liberty was pure error," Captain McGonagle said. But "it appears to me that it was not a pure case of mistaken identity. It was, on the other hand, gross incompetence and aggravated dereliction of duty on the part of many officers and men…"[IBID]



This civilian journalist and patriotic American also contends that a total lack of respect for the troops and a blatant cover-up was instituted when the American government ordered traumatized men to never speak the truth of their experiences to family, friends and media and also threatened them with court martial and worse if they did.


This civilian journalist and patriotic American also contends that the down low way of 'honoring' Captain McGonagle with the highest award the USA can give a service men is another nail in the coffin of the American Government's lack of support for our troops and is a vile, revolting, repugnant, loathsome and treasonous display of not representing we the people.


Medals of Honor are media events presented in the White House by the President, but Captain McGonagle's was 'awarded' "in a dark hall in the Naval Shipyard by a low level Secretary of the Navy," Dr. Richard Kiepfer informed me during a January 12, 2008, phone call.


On January 13, 2008, in an email to me Jim Ennes also wrote: "Admiral Moorer told me that he was asked to present it as then-Chief of Naval Operations.  He protested strongly that it should be presented by the President.  He was unable to make that happen, but did manage to get it kicked up to the Secretary of the Navy."


Kiepfer replied to that comment by stating, "I remember that when I learned who was presenting the highest medal the USA has without even a Cabinet person, or Congressperson in attendance, just a low level secretary of the Navy I thought, who the hell is that? My father was retired Navy and he said it was a slap in the face. My father and I accompanied the Captain, his wife and children to the event. I remember that McGonagle had to make all the reservations for the dinner the night before."


 "Medal of Honor winners and their guests are traditionally treated by the United States to a luxurious dinner at a first class restaurant. Captain and Mrs. McGonagle were put up at the Shoreham Hotel…In keeping with the spirit of the affair…someone failed to notify the restaurant…The next morning Navy Secretary Paul Ignatius presented McGonagle's medal in a modest ceremony two miles from the White House. It was done with a minimum of fanfare and almost no publicity at all. It was done while the President was in the White House. And it was done within hours of a White House ceremony in which the President awarded medals to a pair of Vietnam heroes." [James E. Ennes, ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY, pages 194-195]


Phil Tourney, another LIBERTY survivor and the former President of the USS LIBERTY Vets Association also spoke to me on the phone and clued me in, "The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award the USA can give service men. The point is the citation to McGonagle doesn't even mention the fact of who did the attack on the LIBERTY! I got the Bronze Star with Combat V for valor for the LIBERTY that says all this heroic stuff I did, but there is no mention of who did the attack! This is not the usual way these citations read! I received the Vietnam Service Medal and that states I was in the Republic of Vietnam, but no mention in my Bronze Star that I was attacked by Israel aboard the LIBERTY. Every Purple Heart award states who did the attack; who wounded you…In fact, there are guys that got their discharge papers-you know the DD214's-And there is no mention at all that they had ever been on the LIBERTY! 99% of the time the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor is presented by the President of the United States, but McGonagle's was presented in a Navy shipyard by an undersecretary of the Navy."


Dr. Kiepfer ended our phone conversation by bringing me full circle when he remarked, "Admiral McCain did say he wanted all the citations to state we were attacked by the Israeli Navy and Air Force. But I still wouldn't buy a used car from either of the McCain's or Hillary Clinton!"




Comment from Ken received Jan. 16th AM:



In your most recent USS Liberty article, you quote Jim Ennes: "The updated wounded count is 174 and three more Purple Hearts have been awarded since the 171 number was reported…I don't think he [McGonagle] dodged anything.  I think they simply missed. A 450 foot ship moving at five knots doesn't do much dodging."

It's true that the ship was traveling at 5 knots when it was initially attack from the air.  But all evidence and testimony indicates the ship was traveling close to her maximum speed (about 18 knots) and heading north - toward the open sea -- when attacked by the torpedo boats.  Her average speed was about 15 knots from the time she was initially attacked until the torpedo blast stopped her about 25 nautical miles north of Egypt's north Sinai coast.

See an analysis here:

http://usslibertyinquiry.googlepages.com/essay14



   
 
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