Friday, May 27, 2011

Somers May Return After Centuries

Greg Sykora, Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser and Walt Gregory with the portrait of Master Commandant Richard Somers in the Somers Point Municipal Hall. Mayor Glasser holds a flag that had flown over the US Embassy in Tripoli.

Somers May Return After Centuries
Written by SHAUN SMITH
Thursday, 26 May 2011

SOMERS POINT – After 207 years, local leaders say the ongoing effort to return the remains of Richard Somers has the most momentum in ages.

In April, a delegation from Somers Point traveled to Washington, DC and met with Congressmen Mike Rogers (R- MI) and Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ) to discuss the return of the remains of Somers and 12 other U.S. Navy commandos buried in unmarked mass graves on the shore of Tripoli, Libya.

This week, Rogers will address the floor of the House of Representatives on behalf of HR 1497 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, expected to be voted on this week.

The bill, which was introduced by Rogers and co-sponsored by LoBiondo on April 12, gained the support of co-sponsor Rep. John Carter (R-TX) on April 15.

If passed, it will direct the Secretary of Defense to take whatever steps may be necessary to exhume and transfer the remains of certain deceased members of the Armed Forces buried in Tripoli, Libya, and for other purposes.

Mayor Jack Glasser said due to the political unrest in Libya, the focus of national attention has shifted to the shores of Tripoli, where the remains of Somers and his crew rest.

Sent to fight Barbary pirates in 1804, Master Commandant Somers and his 12­-man crew of the Intrepid all perished when the explosives on board the ship detonated prematurely Sept. 4, 1804. The intended mission was for the men to ignite the fire ship and destroy Tripoli's naval fleet during the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century.

“There are five remains in an old Protestant cemetery and the rest are in an unmarked plot off of Green Square. If you have watched any of the Libya coverage, that is where they have all of their protests and where Gaddafi had made a lot of speeches. This is where we believe 8 of the crew are still buried,” Glasser said Thursday, May 19. “What we’re trying to do is have our Department of Defense and Department of State committed to bring home these remains – they have the resources.”

He said for three years, he has been committed to this effort and has joined forces with Historical Society President Sally Hastings and the Committee to Return Richard Somers, which includes Chairman Walter Gregory and members Greg Sykora and Dean Somers, of the Somers family.

It was that contingent of supporters who met with Rogers and LoBiondo to get the ball rolling last month.

“My father, my father's father, and his father's father have wanted the remains of Master Commandant Richard Somers returned home, and we've worked for it since he and the men of the USS Intrepid were lost in Libya in 1804," said Dean Somers in a press release by The Intrepid Project. "This is long, long overdue, and it wasn't until we met recently with Rep. Frank Lobiondo and Chairman Rogers when we thought it was finally possible."

Glasser said it is his duty to bring Somers home to the shores off which he learned to sail.

“Richard Somers was born here in Somers Point and he’s a son of Somers Point, it’s as simple as that. As a mayor it’s my duty to do as much as I can for this effort. As a veteran I’m even more passionate about it,” said Glasser. “The passion for this cause will not die until we have Richard Somers and his crew brought home.”

More information about this project can be found at and

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