Friday, February 25, 2011

Tripoli Monumnet at DC Navy Yard

The Tripoli Monument at Annapolis had previously been located at the Washington Naval Yard, until it was damaged by the British, and then moved to Capitol Hill before finding its place at Annapolis.

Commissioned and paid for by the officers and men who served in the War against the Barbary Pirates, the Tripoli Monument is made of marble and fashioned by an Italian artist who engraved the names of the officers who died at Tripoli, also mistakenly saying they were buried there, as it was anticipated to be a gravestone.

They say there were only some 38 American casualities in the war, thirteen of them from the USS Intrepid, which exploded in Tripoli Harbor on September 4, 1804.

The remains of the three officers, Lt. Richard Somers, Commander, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, Midshipmen C. Israel and ten able bodied seamen were recovered and buried a few hundred yards east of the Old Castle Fort, in what is now known as Green Square.

In the 1930s, an Italian Army road crew uncovered the remains of five of the men, and they were reburried nearby at Old Protestant Cemetery, where they remain today.

See: Photos of Old Protestant Cemetery.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

USS Enterprise v. Tripoli - Fighting Pirates

USS Enterprise Defeats Tripoli - Off Malta in 1803

Fighting Pirates - Yesterday - 1803 and Today - 2011

The murders of four Americans yachtsmen by pirates off Africa this week reflects the threat against American ships by the Barbary Pirates that lead to the creation of the United States Navy and contines today, two centuries later.

When the Barbary Pirates of North Africa began to attack American ships and hold crews as hostage for ransome and tribute, the Americans responded with the battle cry of "Millions for Defense but not once cent for tribute," and sent a fleet of ships to the Mediterranian to fight them.

As President John Adams said, "We ought not to fight them at all, unless we determine to fight them forever," and indeed, here we are, still fighting them.

The USS Sterret, the American warship that arrived too late to save the lives of those murdered by the pirates, is named after Lt. Andrew Sterret, whose schooner USS Enterprise was the first American vessel to engage the Barbary pirates in 1803.

Among the warships outfitted for the US Navy to fight the pirates was the frigate Philadelphia, and a number of smaller schooners, including the USS Enterprise.

Lt. Richard Somers, of Somers Point, New Jersey, who was later named skipper of the schooner USS Nautilus, reported on Sterret's first early action against the pirates in a letter he wrote to Lt. Stephen Decatur, who would later command the Enterprise himself.

"I was about to close my letter," Somers wrote, "when one of our officers got a letter from a friend on the ENTERPRISE, and as it shows how the Barbary corsairs fight, I will tell you part of it. While running for Malta, on the 1st of August, the ENTERPRISE, came across a polacca-rigged ship such as the Barbary Corsairs usually have, with an american brig in tow. It had evidently been captured and her people set adrift. Sterrett, who commands the ENTERPRSIE, as soon as he found the position of affairs, cleared for action, ran out his guns, and opened with a brisk fire on the Tripolitan. He got into a raking position, and his broadside had a terrific effect upon the pirate. But - mark the next- three times were the Tripolitan colors hauled down, and then hoisted again as soon as the fire of the ENTERPRISE ceased. After the third time, Sterrett played his broadside on the pirate with the determination to sink him for such treachery; but the Tripolitan rais, or captain, appeared in the waste of the ship, bending his body in token of submission, and actually threw his ensign overboard. Sterrett could not take the ship as a prize, because no formal declaration of war had reached him from the United States; but he sent Midshipmen Porter... - aboard the pirate to dismantle her. He had all her guns thrown overboard, stripped her of everything except one old sale and a single spar, and let her go, with a message to the Bashaw of Tripoli that such was the way Americans treated pirates."

"I understand that when rais got to Tripoli with his one old sail, he was ridden through town on a jackass, by order of the Bashaw, and received the bastinado; and that since then the Tripolitans are having great trouble in finding crews to man their corsair ships because of the dread of the 'Americanos'."

"...Now I must tell you a piece of news almost too good to be true. I hear the Government is building four beautiful small schooners, to carry sixteen guns, for use in the Tripolitan war, which is to be pushed actively; and that you, my dear Decatur, will command one of those vessels, and I another! I can write nothing more exhilerating after this; so, I am, as always, your faithful friend, Richard Somers."

While the USS Sterrett is now patroling for pirates off Africa, it is not known what effect the killing of three pirates by American snipers from the USS Bainbridge last year had on these pirates today.

As with the USS Sterrett, the Bainbrige is an American warship named after a hero of the War against the Barbary Pirates. Bainbridge was the Captain of the frigate USS Philadelphia when it ran aground outside Tripoli habor while chasing a pirate coarsair. Bainbridge and his 300 man crew were taken prisoner and held in the dungeons of the Old Castle Fort, which is now a museaum.

Lt. Decatur, aboard a captured pirate ship renamed the USS Intrepid, slipped into Tripoli Harbor on an early special ops mission and scuttled the Philadelphia and escaped without any casualities.

During one of the two American attacks on the pirate fleet at Tripoli, Decatur abandonded a captured Tripolian ship in order to avenge the death of his younger brother, who was killed by a pirate captain who feinigned surrender, just as the pirate captain while fighting Sterrett and the Enterprise.

Lt. Somers then sailed the Intrepid, filled with explosives, back into Tripoli habor on September 4, 1804 in what turned out to be a suicide mission. When the Intrepid exploded prematurely in the harbor, Somers, two officers and ten men were killed, their bodies washed ashore the next morning.

Captain Bainbridge convinced the Bey of Tripoli to allow the captured chief surgeon from the Philadelphia and a detail of prisoners to bury them, which they did just east of the Old Castle Fort in what is now Green Square, ground zero in the new Battle of Tripoli.

While Decatur and the Navy kept the pirates bottled up at Tripoli Harbor, Marine Lt. Presley O'Bannon and a detatchment of eight marines, American diplomat Eaton, 200 Greek Christian mercinaries and 2,000 Arab tribesmen marched across the desert and attacked and captured the port city of Derna, not far from Bengazi.

They were about to march on Tripoli and fight to free the prisoners from the Philadelphia when a treaty was hatched and Bainbridge and his men were freed.

The Bey at the time was Karamandi, the same name of the Bey of Tripoli in 1949 when a ceremony was held at the graves of five men of Somers' men from the USS Intrpeid. In over a hundred and fifty years, the same family was still ruling Tripoli.

Now there begins another March on Tripoli, but this one cannot be co-opted by a treaty, and Green Square, the site of the graves of Lt. Somers and his men from the Intrepid, is now the symbolic site that must be retaken before Libya can be considered liberated.

Friday, February 18, 2011

BBC Libya Timeline

Timeline: Libya

A chronology of key events:
7th century BC - Phoenicians settle in Tripolitania in western Libya.

Sabratha: Ancient city prospered under the Romans
One of the three cities of ancient Tripolis
Founded by Carthaginians

2005: Libya's tourist treasures
2006: Libya fears for its stolen heritage
6th century BC - Carthage conquers Tripolitania.
4th century BC - Greeks colonise Cyrenaica in the east of the country, which they call Libya.
74 BC - Romans conquer Libya.
643 - Arabs under Amr Ibn al-As conquer Libya and spread Islam.
16th century - Libya becomes part of the Ottoman Empire, which joins the three provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan into one regency in Tripoli.
1911-12 - Italy conquers Libya.
1920s - Libyan resistance to Italian rule begins under the leadership of the Sanusi dynasty and Umar al-Mukhtar.

Tripoli grew rapidly in the 1970s
Founded by the Phoenecians
645 AD: Conquered by Arab warriors
Population: 1.7 million (estimate)
1942 - Allies oust Italians from Libya, which is then divided between the French, who administer Fezzan, and the British, who control Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.
1951 - Libya becomes independent under King Idris al-Sanusi.
1956 - Libya grants two American oil companies a concession of some 14 million acres.
1961 - King Idris opens a 104-mile pipeline, which links important oil fields in the interior to the Mediterranean Sea and makes it possible to export Libyan oil for the first time.

The Gaddafi era

1969 - King Idris deposed in military coup led by Col Muammar Gaddafi, who pursues a pan-Arab agenda by attempting to form mergers with several Arab countries, and introduces state socialism by nationalising most economic activity, including the oil industry.
1970 - Libya orders the closure of a British airbase in Tobruk and the giant US Wheelus air force base in Tripoli; property belonging to Italian settlers nationalised.
1971 - National referendum approves proposed Federation of Arab Republics (FAR) comprising Libya, Egypt and Syria. However, the FAR never takes off.

Colonel Gaddafi deposed the king in 1969
On This Day 1969: Bloodless coup in Libya
2003: Colonel Gaddafi's Libya
2003: In pictures - Gaddafi anniversary

1999: 30th anniversary of coup
1972 - Libya and Egypt agree on a merger, but this fails to materialise.
1973 - Col Gaddafi declares a "cultural revolution", which includes the formation of "people's committees" in schools, hospitals, universities, workplaces and administrative districts; Libyan forces occupy Aozou Strip in northern Chad.
1974 - Libya and Tunisia agree on a union state - the "Islamic Arab Republic" - but this proves to be stillborn.
1977 - Col Gaddafi declares a "people's revolution", changing the country's official name from the Libyan Arab Republic to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah and setting up "revolutionary committees" - heralding the start of institutionalised chaos, economic decline and general arbitrariness.
1980 - Libya and Syria agree on a merger, but this too fails to materialise; Libyan troops start intervening on a large scale in civil war in northern Chad.
Confrontation with the US
1981 - US shoots down two Libyan aircraft which challenged its warplanes over the Gulf of Sirte, claimed by Libya as its territorial water.

Sculpture marks US air attacks, launched after terror allegation

On This Day 1986: US launches air strikes on Libya

1984 - UK breaks off diplomatic relations with Libya after a British policewoman is shot dead outside the Libyan People's Bureau, or embassy, in London, while anti-Gaddafi protests were taking place.
1986 - US bombs Libyan military facilities, residential areas of Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 101 people, and Gaddafi's house, killing his adopted daughter. USsays raids were in response to alleged Libyan involvement in bombing of Berlin disco frequented by US military personnel.
1988 - Gaddafi orders the release of some political prisoners and embarks on limited economic liberalisation.
1989 - Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia form the Arab Maghreb Union.
Lockerbie plane bombing
1992 - UN imposes sanctions on Libya in an effort to force it to hand over for trial two of its citizens suspected of involvement in the blowing up of a PanAm airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

US accused Libya over 1988 Lockerbie bombing

In depth: The Lockerbie appeal
On This Day 1988: Jumbo jet crashes onto Lockerbie

1994 - Libya returns the Aozou Strip to Chad.
1995 - Gaddafi expels some 30,000 Palestinians in protest at the Oslo accords between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel.
1999 - Lockerbie suspects handed over for trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law; UN sanctions suspended; diplomatic relations with UK restored.
2000 September - Dozens of African immigrants are killed by Libyan mobs in the west of Libya who were said to be angry at the large number of African labourers coming into the country.

Lockerbie sentence

2001 31 January - Special Scottish court in the Netherlands finds one of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi, guilty and sentences him to life imprisonment. Megrahi's co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fahimah, is found not guilty and freed.
2001 May - Libyan troops help to quell a coup attempt against President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic.
2002 January - Libya and the US say they have held talks to mend relations after years of hostility over what the Americans termed Libya's sponsorship of terrorism.
2002 14 March - The Libyan man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, loses his appeal against the conviction and begins a life sentence of at least 20 years.


2003 January - Libya is elected chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission despite opposition from the US and human rights groups.

Libya's pledge to halt WMD programmes was well-received

Libyan WMD: Tripoli's statement in full

2004: Libyan leader embraces West
2003 August - Libya signs a deal worth $2.7bn to compensate families of the Lockerbie bombing victims. Libya takes responsibility for the bombing in a letter to the UN Security Council.
2003 September - UN Security Council votes to lift sanctions.
2003 December - Libya says will abandon programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction.
2004 January - Libya agrees to compensate families of victims of 1989 bombing of French passenger aircraft over Sahara.
2004 March - British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits, the first such visit since 1943.

Nurses sentenced

2004 May - Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are sentenced to death having been accused of deliberately infecting some 400 children with HIV. Their case goes to appeal.
2004 August - Libya agrees to pay $35m to compensate victims of the bombing of a Berlin nightclub in 1986.
2005 January - Libya's first auction of oil and gas exploration licences heralds the return of US energy companies for the first time in more than 20 years.
2005 December - Supreme Court overturns death penalties imposed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor convicted of infecting Libyan children with HIV. A retrial is ordered.
2006 February - At least 10 people are killed in clashes with police in Benghazi, part of a wave of international protests by Muslims who are angered by a Danish newspaper's cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
2006 May - The US says it is restoring full diplomatic ties with Libya.
2006 September - Human Rights Watch accuses Libya of abusing the human rights of African migrants trying to enter the EU by forcibly repatriating them. Some of the migrants face possible persecution or torture at home, according to the report.
Colonel Gaddafi marks the 37th anniversary of his military coup with a speech urging supporters to kill enemies trying to reverse the gains of his revolution.
2006 December - At the end of a retrial, a court finds five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor guilty of deliberately infecting Libyan children with HIV. All six are sentenced to death.
2007 January - Prime minister announces plan to make redundant 400,000 government workers - more than a third of the total workforce - to stimulate the private sector and ease public spending.

Nurses freed

2007 July - The death sentences of the six foreign medical workers in the HIV case are commuted to life in prison. Shortly after they are freed under a deal with the European Union.

Two of the foreign medical workers accused of deliberately infecting some 400 children with HIV

2008 January - Libya takes over one-month rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in a step back to respectability after decades as a pariah of the West.
2008 August - Libya and US sign agreement committing each side to compensate all victims of bombing attacks on the other's citizens.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologises to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signs a five billion dollar investment deal by way of compensation.
2008 September - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes historic visit - the highest-level US visit to Libya since 1953. Ms Rice says relations between the US and Libya have entered a "new phase".
2008 November - US Lockerbie victims' group says Libya has paid them full compensation. Possibility of restoration of diplomatic relations with United States.
2009 February - Gaddafi elected chairman of the African Union by leaders meeting in Ethiopia. Sets out ambition of "United States of Africa" even embracing the Caribbean.
2009 June - Gaddafi pays first state visit to Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler and now its main trading partner.

Al-Megrahi released

Convicted bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi (l) gets a hero's welcome

2009 August - Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is freed from gaol in Scotland on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya. His release and return to a hero's welcome causes a storm of controversy.
2009 September - Libya holds celebrations to mark 40 years since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seized power.
2009 December - Diplomatic row with Switzerland and European Union after Gaddafi's son is held in Switzerland on charges of mistreating domestic workers.
2010 January - Russia agrees to sell Libya weapons in a deal worth $1.8bn. The deal is thought to include fighter jets, tanks and air defence systems.
2010 May - Afriqiyah Airways plane crashes on approach to Tripoli, killing 103 on board. A Dutch boy is the sole survivor.
2010 June - UN refugee agency UNHCR expelled.
2010 July - US senators push for inquiry into claims that oil giant BP lobbied for Lockerbie bomber's release.
BP confirms it is about to begin drilling off Libyan coast.
2010 October - European Union and Libya sign agreement designed to slow illegal migration.
2010 November - Group of journalists arrested in apparent power struggle within ruling elite. Gaddafi later orders them to be freed.

2010 December - US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks indicate that Gaddafi threatened to cut trade with Britain if Lockerbie bomber died in prison.

2011 February - Arrest of human rights campaigner sparks off violent protests in eastern city of Benghazi.

"No signs of calm" - LA Times

Reporting from Beirut

By Alexandra Sandels, Los Angeles Times

February 19, 2011,0,6570346.story

The unrest shaking the Middle East and North Africa showed no signs of calming Friday as protesters determined to overthrow governments and remake a region plagued by corruption, poverty and decades of limited political freedoms continued to confront security forces and regime loyalists.

Uprisings that only months ago would have been unthinkable have engulfed a region desperate to replicate the toppling of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. So far, the breadth of demonstrations in Yemen, Libya and Jordan have not reached a tipping point.

As in Bahrain, many leaders in the region are relying on the police and military, pro-government propaganda and intimidation to beat back protesters.

But the death toll and the frustrations are growing.

Protests against the 41-year rule of Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi continued in Benghazi on Friday with opposition forces and government troops clashing violently. The tumult in Libya's second city has taken as many as 35 lives there, according human rights groups, news agencies and hospital officials.

Kadafi's support in Benghazi is weaker than elsewhere, and a mostly youthful crowd of protesters fought for control of the eastern coastal city a day after deadly confrontations in the capital, Tripoli, Al Jazeera news channel reported.

Kadafi foes, joined by defecting police, were also fighting security forces for control of Beida, northeast of Benghazi, according to exile groups.

Libyan state television reported that pro-government demonstrators were out in force in Tripoli and showed images of men chanting in favor of Kadafi. The longtime leader appeared briefly in Tripoli's Green Square but didn't speak to the people chanting his praises.

Human Rights Watch said Friday that at least 84 people have been killed in protests nationwide in the last 72 hours. Confirmation of any developments out of Libya is difficult because of harsh restraints placed on independent news media.

In Yemen, at least four demonstrators died and several dozen were injured when large anti-government rallies in cities across the country turned violent for the eighth consecutive day.

In the city of Taizz, south of the Yemeni capital, Sana, one person was killed and many others injured when a grenade was lobbed into a crowd of 10,000 protesters in the central square. Officials in Sana denied the government had anything to do with the attack. Local news reports also said three people were killed in Aden.

In Sana, after Friday prayers, about 2,000 anti-government protesters carrying megaphones and armed with rocks clashed with hundreds of government supporters wielding homemade bats. The melee lasted for more than an hour, spreading into side streets and back alleys as men swung at each other with sticks and crowbars until the police dispersed them.

Anti-government demonstrators complained about unemployment and rampant government corruption.

"No one I know has a job. We graduated from university and we don't have jobs," said Akram Matharamy, one of the protesters. Yemen, one of the poorest and most volatile nations in the Arab world, has an estimated 35% unemployment rate. "We are poor because this regime is corrupt. Everything here is corrupt."

In the Jordanian capital, Amman, a demonstration outside the Husseini mosque turned unexpectedly ugly when a gang of more than 100 government supporters rushed in and began beating protesters with metal and wooden clubs. An estimated 300 demonstrators fled onto side streets while hundreds of police stood by and did not intervene, according to witnesses. At least eight people were injured.

"The police allowed those thugs to beat us up," said Mwaffaq Mahadin, a leftist columnist who was injured along with his son, a film director, who is in the hospital with a concussion. He said the protesters included lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionals.

"This is a march we go on every Friday. We haven't changed our slogans or what we were saying for the past four weeks. Nothing about getting rid of the regime. We're asking about democratic changes. The 1952 constitution. Fighting corruption. Stopping normalization with Israel," Mahadin said.

Jordanian police said the incident began when government supporters who were conducting their own rally ran into the pro-reform demonstration and arguments ensued.

Taher Adwan, minister of state for media affairs, said the government condemned the attack as a violation of Jordanians' right to demonstrate peacefully

The desert kingdom has had regular peaceful protests in recent days pressing King Abdullah II for political reforms. The government had unveiled a $230-million economic package in January, but as protests continued, the king sacked the Cabinet on Feb. 1.

Protests erupted for the first time in the oil-producing state of Kuwait on Friday. More than 1,000 stateless Arabs demonstrated in Jahra, west of Kuwait City, demanding citizenship, free education, free healthcare and jobs — benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals.

Many of Kuwait's stateless residents are descendants of nomads denied citizenship under the kingdom's strict laws.

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Security forces used smoke bombs and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.

Also testifying to the infectious fever of change, protests broke out Friday in the tiny East African nation of Djibouti, where thousands rallied to demand the president's resignation.

President Ismail Omar Guelleh has incurred the wrath of his countrymen by changing the constitution to scrap a two-term limit that would have prohibited him from seeking reelection in April. The Guelleh family has been in power for three decades in a nation of about 750,000 with rampant unemployment and life expectancy of only 43 years.

Djibouti, strategically located where the Gulf of Aden leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, hosts the only U.S. military base in Africa at Camp Lemonnier.

Meanwhile, Moroccan websites are abuzz with news of planned protests Sunday against a government that critics consider corrupt, elitist and out of touch. A banned Islamist movement is using the moment to call for democratic change, although Moroccan authorities are responding with an official shrug.

Morocco's economy is among the most diversified and open in the region, with a solid banking system and tourism and services industry.

The king, and his father at the end of his reign, are credited with a number of political reforms.

Green Square Tripoli Protests

Green Square Tripoli Protests at graves of American Naval Heroes.

...Chipp Reid, a former journalist who lives in Eastport and now works for the federal government, said five of the Intrepid's crew, though unidentified, are buried in individual graves in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli.

The other eight, also unidentified, are buried in a mass grave in what is now a park in front of Tripoli Castle in Libya.

"They (the eight) are buried in front of the castle where (Libyan ruler Muammar al-) Gaddafi holds his I-hate-America rallies. The Libyans are, quite literally, dancing on American bodies," Reid said.

Intrepid crew died 206 years ago today defending America abroad

Earl Kelly, Staff Writer
The Capital
Published 09/04/10

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Annapolis News Report on Tripoli Graves

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Annapolis News Report on Tripoli Graves

Local writer delves into Tripoli battle

Intrepid crew died 206 years ago today defending America abroad

Earl Kelly, Staff Writer
The Capital
Published 09/04/10

A local man hopes a book he's writing will spark public interest in recovering from Libya the remains of 13 Navy officers and seamen - some of them from Annapolis - who died 206 years ago today.

The officers and men were killed when the Intrepid, an explosives-laden ship they were trying to sneak into Tripoli's harbor, exploded prematurely. The mission had been aimed at getting the fire ship, called an "infernal," close enough to blow up a fort and artillery belonging to the Barbary pirates.

This action was part of the First Barbary War, which lasted from 1801 to 1805; the United States was fighting to defend American shipping from pirates operating out of the four North African states on the Barbary Coast: Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco and Algiers.

Chipp Reid, a former journalist who lives in Eastport and now works for the federal government, said five of the Intrepid's crew, though unidentified, are buried in individual graves in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli.

The other eight, also unidentified, are buried in a mass grave in what is now a park in front of Tripoli Castle in Libya.

"They (the eight) are buried in front of the castle where (Libyan ruler Muammar al-) Gaddafi holds his I-hate-America rallies. The Libyans are, quite literally, dancing on American bodies," Reid said.

The three officers and eight seamen died on the night of Sept. 4, 1804. Master Commandant Richard Somers and his volunteer crew were trying to slip Intrepid into Tripoli's crescent-shaped harbor, where they planned to light fuses, then make their escape on a small cutter.

"The goal was to cause as much damage and as many casualties as they could to that city-state, so that Tripoli would never threaten American shipping again," Reid said.

It has never been determined whether the ship was hit by artillery fire, or if the crew blew the ship up to keep the enemy from capturing the vessel loaded with ordnance that could have been used against the Americans. Another possibility, though remote, given how well the mission had been planned, was that a crew member may have ignited the explosives accidentally.

The crew aboard the flagship USS Constitution recorded Intrepid's fate.

"At 9:59 p.m., per Constitution's log book, there was cannon fire (from the shore), and 10 seconds later the whole harbor lit up," Reid said. "Nobody knows what happened, and the shore battery may have fired red-hot shot" into the ship.

Somers, who commanded the mission, was from Somers, N.J., which celebrates Richard Somers Day every year.

"We have been trying so hard to bring his remains back to the States," the town's mayor, Jack Glasser, said in a phone interview.

"What Somers did that day took a lot of guts. That is major, major heroism. ... If he did it today, he would be up for the Medal of Honor," said Glasser, a retired police officer and retired Air National Guard master sergeant.

Annapolis connections

One man who died, Midshipman Joseph Israel, was definitely from Annapolis, Reid said, and two others, Gunner's Mate James Simms and Quartermaster William Keith, enlisted in Annapolis and probably were from the surrounding area.

Reid has determined that Israel was 14 when he joined the Navy and 18 when he died.

Also, the Tripoli Memorial is located at the Naval Academy.

The memorial, financed by Navy officers, was carved in Italy and installed in 1808 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Then it was moved to the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol around 1835, before being moved to the academy in 1860.

"Every time it was moved, it increased knowledge of the monument and the heroes," said James W. Cheevers, associate director of the Naval Academy Museum. "In 1835, on the West Terrace of the Capitol, that was much more exposure than it had in the Navy Yard. And then it was moved here to influence our future leaders at the Naval Academy."

Human remains

In all, 35 people died fighting in Tripoli in August and September 1804, according to various historians. Of those, 22 died in other explosions, and their remains were never found.

As for Intrepid's crew, they didn't fare much better, said Michael J. Crawford, senior historian at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.

"They were in a most mangled and burnt condition," Crawford said, "and it was impossible to identify people or to even tell the officers from the seamen."

Some remains were believed to be those of officers because their hands weren't very calloused, Crawford said.

Adding to the confusion, Crawford said, is that some of the remains were moved and reburied once, and may have gotten mixed up with the remains of other people.

"There have been attempts over the years by descendents of some of the officers to get the bones repatriated, but given the murkiness of the history of the bones, it is questionable whether we can identify the remains," Crawford said.

Another historian said that leaving the remains where they are may actually be a sign of respect, since it was commonplace in the 19th century to bury soldiers near where they fell, and to bury sailors at sea.

"Burial at sea was common in the 18th and 19th centuries after any battle," said Craig L. Symonds, a retired Naval Academy history professor and a nationally acclaimed author and scholar. "The bodies would be laid out on the deck, there would be a service, and then they would be committed to the deep."

"The Early National Period was not as obsessed with leaving no one behind as we are today," he added.

Whether the remains are ever returned to the United States, Reid said he hopes his book, which is at a literary agent's office now, will shed light on one of the forgotten chapters in American history.

"That era is so poorly covered," Reid said. "In school, they go straight from the Revolution to the Civil War, and don't give the Early National Period the attention it deserves. ... And these men have been forgotten."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Repatriation and Unrest in Africa

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American Cemetery Tunisia

At the 27-acre North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia rest 2,841 of our military dead, their headstones set in straight lines subdivided into 9 rectangular plots by wide paths, with decorative pools at their intersections. Along the southeast edge of the burial area, bordering the tree-lined terrace leading to the memorial is the Wall of the Missing. On this wall 3,724 names are engraved. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most honored here lost their lives in World War II in military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.

The chapel and the memorial court, which contains large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting the operations and supply activities of American forces across Africa to the Persian Gulf, were designed to harmonize with local architecture. The chapel interior is decorated with polished marble, flags and sculpture.

This cemetery in Tunisia is not far - a few hundred miles - from the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya, where five men from the first USS Intrepid are burried, along with over a hundred graves of diplomats and their families, mostly Christian, many British but some from other countries.

The Chief of Naval Operations has designated those graves of the five American Navy men from the Intrepid burried in the Old Protestant Cemetery as their perminent resting spot, so they will not be repatriated. The employees of the American Embassy in Tripoli have secured the cemetery grave site, got the Libyans to reinforce and repair the cemetery walls, and are prepared to have an historic plaque and flag poles replaced.

The original Green Square grave site, where the three officers and five men of the Intrepid are still burried in an unmarked grave, is not secure however, and is in constant danger of being violated by development, crowds and amateur archelogists.

With the current unrest in Tunisia, where the protests against authoritive, dictorial regimes began in late 2010, Egypt, Yeman and other countries in Africa and the Middle East, it's quite possible the turmoile could spread to Libya and further threatened both grave sites in Tripoli.

A soccer match between the Libyan national team and Morrocco was cancelled in fear of the sports crowds turning unrully, and some disidents in Bengazi have begun hunger strikes with the intention of trying to rally support against the Quadafi government.

A change in governments would not necessarily be in the best intrests of those who want to see the repatriation of Somers and the Intrepid men at the Green Square grave site because we already have the support of the Quadfai Charities Foundation and the tasit approval of the Quadafi government, as well as the vocal support of the US Ambassador Mr. Gene Cretz.

It is the US Department of Defense, the US military, who are resisting the efforts to repatriate the remains of these men, by refusing to even acknowledge the existence of the original Green Square grave site, which is located a few hundred yards east of the Old Castle Fort and Museum.

The exact location of this grave site, which was partially excavated by the Libyans in 2006, can be pin pointed by examining satellite photos of the area taken over time.

The location of the original grave site can be located by zeroing in on a football field size plot of ground - just over one hundred and fify yards east of the walls of the old castle fort. While most of this area is now a paved square that is used as a parking lot, there are pockets of grass and trees throughout the area, and it is within one of these plots of grass where the original grave site is located.

This is also the area where Mussolini gave his speech, Rommel ploted his strategy and where Quadafi celebrated the recent anniversary of his 1969 revolution. The Volkswagon that he rode into town is now enshrined in the Museum at the Old Castle Fort, where the relics go back three and four thousand years.

The 200 year old graves of American navy men at Green Square is like yesterday to them, and they pretty much ignore it and for the most part don't even know it is there.

And if the protests expand to Libya and there are protests in Tripoli, you can bet they will happen there, right on top of the graves of the American heros.

So the best strategy for those who want to see the repatriation of the remains of these men, is to sit tight, and wait and see how the current crisis and unrest plays out. In the meantime, we can educate people about these men, especially those who can assit in their return, and bring everybody up to speed on everything we know at this point in time. Then when things stabalize, be prepared to have the DOD POW MP team go in there with a camera crew and record their removal of the remains and their return home.

The remains of these men should be treated like those of all military men who are killed in the line of duty today - they should be transported to the American military hospital in Germany where they should be given routine autopsies, using the latest technology available. Their DNA should be obtained and tested against those from the Somers, Wordsworth and Israel families and any other families of the men who can be found, and the bodies of the officers identified.

The officers may be able to be identified by the buttons of their uniforms, which may have survived deteriation. Then they should be placed in caskets with flags draped over them and flown to the USAF base at Dover, Delaware, and if necessary, further pathological tests taken.

The president of the association of USS Intrepid veterans has suggested that a proper and formal Repatriation Ceremony be conducted for these men on the deck of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, after which the officers can be taken by their families to their hometowns of Somers Point, Maine and Maryland, while the remains of the five sailors are escorted to Arlington National Cemetary and burried in plots reserved for them in 1980 by Congress.

For this to happen however, it must be prepared like a military mission, as it will be, and conducted at the first opportunity after the situation there is secure.

William Kelly

Celebrated Return to Tripoli

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UK Did All It Could to Free Lockerbie Bomber -

Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2011

[BILL KELLY NOTES: Now that al-Megrahi received his celebrated homecoming, one of the things that can be done to offset this is to bring home the remains of USS Intrepid officers Lt. Richard Somers, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, Lt. Israel and the eight seamen of the Intrepid that are burried in unmarked graves in Green Square, Tripoli, so they can receive their homecoming and be properly burried with full military honors.]

LONDON – Britain's previous government did "all it could" to help Libya win the release of the only man convicted of the Pan Am bombing in Scotland in 1988, though it insisted the decision was made entirely by Scottish officials, Britain's head of civil service said Monday.

However, Sir Gus O'Donnell, the leader of the Cabinet Office, also said he found no evidence that the central government had put any pressure on Scottish authorities to grant the release.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the terrorist attack, was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the ground that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon.

He is still alive.

The bombing of the U.S.-bound Pan Am jumbo jet killed 270 people, most of them Americans, and al-Megrahi's release has been criticized by members of the U.S. Congress.

Cameron's office said he discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday at a security conference in Munich and that they had "strongly agreed" the prisoner release was a mistake.

"He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history, and in my view he should have died in jail," Cameron told the House of Commons.

O'Donnell said British policy regarding al-Megrahi developed after former Prime Minister Tony Blair negotiated a prisoner transfer agreement with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2007.

Policy then developed that the government should "do all it could" to facilitate an appeal by the Libyans to the Scottish government for Megrahi's transfer to be released under the prisoner transfer agreement or on compassionate grounds, O'Donnell said.

"Nonetheless, once Mr. Megrahi had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in September 2008, (government) policy was based upon an assessment that U.K. interests would be damaged if Mr. Megrahi were to die in a U.K. jail," O'Donnell said.

"The development of this view was prompted, following Mr. Megrahi's diagnosis of terminal illness, by the extremely high priority attached to Mr. Megrahi's return by the Libyans, who had made clear that they would regard his death in Scottish custody as a death sentence and by actual and implicit threats made of severe ramifications for U.K. interests if Mr. Megrahi were to die in prison in Scotland."

Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, met Gadhafi in July 2009, a month before the release, and had said he could not interfere in the Scottish decision, O'Donnell said.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings last year on whether the British-based oil company BP had sought al-Megrahi's release to help get a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya moving. Former BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward refused to testify before the committee last year.

BP has acknowledged that it had urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it didn't specify al-Megrahi's case. O'Donnell said he found no evidence that BP pressured the Scottish government to release al-Megrahi.

"It's clear to me, those who think there was some sort of conspiracy cooked up between BP, the British government and the Scots ... that's not right," Cameron said.

The bombing aboard the Pan Am 747 jumbo jet on Dec. 22, 1988, killed all 259 people aboard the aircraft and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie town, where much of the wreckage fell.

Al-Megrahi was convicted by a Scottish court in 2001 and sentenced to 27 years in jail.

O'Donnell said Blair's and Brown's governments had been "primarily motivated by a desire to build on previous success in normalizing relations with Libya and to safeguard the substantial gains made in recent years, and specifically to avoid harm to U.K. nationals, to British commercial interests and to cooperation on security issues."

"The desire to see such a result developed and intensified over time as Mr. Megrahi's health declined and the imminence of his death appeared greater," O'Donnell said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner thanked Cameron for ordering the review, which American officials are now studying. He added that the U.S. has always opposed and regretted the decision to release al-Megrahi.

American Bob Monetti, whose 20-year-old son Richard was on the flight, said Monday he blames Britain for the release of the convicted terrorist.

"The Brits seem to be in fear of the Libyans because they have so much business involved it trumps everything, including justice," said Monetti, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

But American Bert Ammerman, whose brother Tom was killed in the crash, said the U.S. also deserves blame for not doing more diplomatic work to prevent al-Megrahi's release in 2009.

"It is a national disgrace what our State Department did regarding the release of al-Megrahi," said Ammerman, of River Vale, New Jersey.


AP writers David Stringer in London and Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J., contributed to this report.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green Square Tripoli


Green Square, Tripoli, the area east of the Old Castle Fort and Museum, is where people have traditionally gathered for celebrations, parades, marches and protests.

The largest American military cemetery in Afria is in Tunisia, the site of the first protests that seem to be happening across the North African continent and Middle East, with long established regimes falling like dominos.

If the popular insurections that have forced a change in power in Tunisia and is rocking Egypt spreads to other Arab countries, protests could occur in Libya. Although such protests against the Quadafi regime would proably begin in Bengazi, where hunger strikes have begun, if they occur in Tripoli, they will most likely be held at Green Square.

Green Sqaure, besides being the most popular place for people to gather and protest in Tripoli, is also where the remains of Lt. Richard Somers, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, Lt. Israel and eight men of the USS Intrepid are burried.

If such protests occur in Tripoli, they will most likely be held right at the gravesite of these American heroes.
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Full Honors for Dog Slain in Line of Duty


Schultz, a police dog killed in the line of duty, is burried with full honors.
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When will the remains of Lt. Richard Somers and the men of the USS Intrepid be returned home and buried with full military honors, as they should?