Saturday, March 19, 2011
With Full Military Honors
How It Will Go Down – The Repatriation of the Remains of Lt. Richard Somers and the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli. By William Kelly
1) The exact location of the original grave site is determined through the examination of aerial/satellite photographs. It is located “one cable’s length,” east of the old castle fort and an equal distance from the harbor, or about 600 feet – the length of two football fields. The target area itself, in what is now called Green Square (or Martyr’s Square) is about the size of a football field, and is mostly paved over with asphalt, but there are patches of green grass and trees, and the graves are said to be easily recognized from the ground.
2) The situation in Libya must settle down, a new government must be established, and the repatriation of the remains of the men of the Intrepid from their original grave site must be made a priority by the US government and the military.
3) After permission is granted by the new government, who ever it is, a security team goes in and secures the perimeter of the original grave site, along with a photo/film crew who are responsible for documenting the proceedings.
4) After security is established, the archeology team from the DOD – POW/MP office goes first to the Old Protestant Cemetery and takes DNA samples from each of the five graves, and then proceeds to the original grave site and begins the archeology dig, very carefully removing layers of possibly concrete, grass, dirt and attempts to identify each of the eight remaining bones, distinguishing the three officers and the five men, possibly by buttons and/or location, as the three officers were buried apart from the others.
5) While the security team recovers the graves site and recreates the scene as natural as possible, leaving behind a small plaque in English and Arabic that describes the site as the original burial plot of the men of the USS Intrepid, the remains of the men are flown to the military hospital in Germany where autopsies are performed and DNA extracted from each of the remains.
6) The remains are then placed in flag draped US military coffins and flown to the US military base at Dover, Delaware, where they are removed with a traditional “Ramp Ceremony.” The remains are then taken to the US military pathology institute in DC if additional autopsy and DNA testing is required, and then taken to the USS Intrepid air craft carrier on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City where a formal Repatriation ceremony is performed on deck a few days later.
7) After the official Repatriation ceremony, the officers are returned to their hometowns, Lt. Wadsworth to Maine, Lt. Somers to Somers Point, NJ and Lt. Israel to Annapolis, Maryland, while the other five men are taken by overland parade to Arlington National Cemetery where they are buried with full military honors in graves reserved for them.