It was 45 years ago — June 8, 1967 — almost to the day, that the USS Liberty was attacked in international waters off the coast of Egypt by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats. Thirty-one Navy seamen, two Marines and one U.S. civilian were killed and 170 Navy seaman were wounded. Capt. William L. McGonagle was wounded and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on that day. The award ceremony was not conducted in the White House by President Johnson as not to embarrass Israel. Instead, it was awarded in an office at the Washington Naval Yard by the Secretary of the Navy with no media present.
Sadly, politics and voting blocks have denied the USS Liberty of it’s just due. There was a postal library dedicated in her name in Wisconsin, and not one US Navy official or dignitary was present. The USS Liberty Library naming was denounced by the Milwaukee Jewish Council and Anti-Defamation League as “anti-Semetic” at the time. To this day there is no official U.S. Navy memorial dedicated to her at the Norfolk Naval Base. The USS Cole, on the other hand, had one built one year after her attack with the president, secretary of defense and all the highest ranking military officers of the United States in attendance.
This Memorial Day we honored the supreme sacrifices of our military throughout our nation’s history. Let us not forget to honor the USS Liberty’s heroes.