Sen. Frank Lautenberg
One Gateway Center
Newark, N.J. 07102
(973-639-8700) Fax: 639-8723
One Port Center
Suite 505, Fifth Floor
2 Riverside Drive Camden, N.J. 08101
(856) 339-8922 Fax: 338-8936
Hart Senate Office Building
Suite 324 Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3224 Fax: 228-4054
March 4, 2009
Dear Senator Lautenberg,
In leading the efforts in Congress seeking justice for the victims of terrorism, and in making the effort to resolve outstanding issues in the restoration of diplomatic relations with Libya, you are in a unique position to assist in the repatriation of the remains of New Jersey native Lt. Richard Somers and the crew of the USS Intrepid. They are the oldest POW/MP case on record and should be given priority attention.
It was two hundred and four years to the day – Sept. 4, 1804 the USS Intrepid exploded in Tripoli harbor that Secretary of State Condi Rice arrived in Libya (Sept. 5, 2008). Now that all other issues have been attended, its now time to remember the men of the Intrepid. Lt. Somers left his Somers Point, NJ home to fight pirates and died at Tripoli with Lt. Henry Wadsworth and Lt. Israel, who are still buried in an unmarked, tarred over plot next to the old castle fort. The remains of five men of the Intrepid are buried in marked graves in a nearby cemetery. [See: http://remembertheintrepid.blogspot.com/ ]
It is imperative that the representatives of the United States persuade the government of Libya to allow the United States Navy to inspect the original gravesite and for the US DOD POW/MP office to begin repatriations of the remains of these heroes.
The government of Libya should also allow for the United States government, or a non-profit private foundation, to assume responsibility for the security and upkeep of both grave sites and maintain them after the repatriations are complete.
Those men died fighting for the same ideals that our men and women fight and die for day, and the current resolutions of our differences is also the end of the hostilities that began over two centuries ago.
Remember Lt. Somers and the men of the Intrepid.
William E. Kelly, Jr.