Sunday, April 20, 2008

VFW Newsletter Notice - 200 Years Late

200 Years Late—American Graves in Tripoli:

It has been over 200 years since the USS Intrepid embarked on its fateful mission into Tripoli Harbor to do battle with the Arab (Barbary) Pirates, a mission that is not yet over. The families of Lt. Richard Somers, Commander of the Intrepid, the citizens of Somers Point, and the VFW have not forgotten the oldest active case on record, and they want the remains of their native son returned.

There is much historical data on the location of the remains of the Intrepid’s crew. This is not an MIA issue, for they are not missing. It is a Navy operational issue, but the Navy is NOT interested in retrieving their remains. Why not? They are American citizens and sailors and belong here with their fellow veterans.

In his 1842 biography of Somers, James Finamore Cooper wrote, “Here, then, lie the remains of Somers and his two gallant friends; and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land. Their identity would be once established by the number of skeletons, and the friends of the deceased might find a melancholy consolation in being permitted to drop a tear over the spot in which they would be finally entombed.”

Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors routinely risk everything to retrieve their fallen comrades in today’s conflicts. Why do Lt. Somers and his crewmen remain left behind when we know exactly where their remains lie, and diplomatic relations have been reestablished?

BK: Many thanks to all the Vets who keep the issue and honor of POWs and MPs alive today.
Bill Kelly can be reached at

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