Friday, May 27, 2011

Repatriation Resolution Passes House

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Somers Point Delegation meets with Rep. Mike Rogers (R. Mich) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R. NJ) in Washington on April 15, 2011. From left: Chipp Reid, Frank LoBiondo, Greg Sykora, Sally Hastings, Walt Gregory, Jack Glasser, Dean Somers, Bill Kelly, Michael Caputo and Mike Rogers.


Backers urge all Americans to push their US Senators to support repatriation

(WASHINGTON, DC) - On Thursday the United States House of Representatives passed a bill including an amendment authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, (R-MI), and Frank LoBiondo, (R-NJ), that would require the Department of Defense to repatriate the remains of 13 US Navy commandos buried in mass graves in Tripoli, Libya since 1804.

The amendment - which would repatriate, identify and honor the sailors with a military funeral - was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). After passing the full House, the NDAA now heads to the US Senate for consideration.

"Our family is delighted and encouraged by the passage of the NDAA with the Rogers-LoBiondo amendment intact," said Dean Somers of Somers Point, New Jersey, and descendent of Richard Somers, the 19th century commander of the USS Intrepid. "We've still got a long way to go, but we're more and more hopeful every day."

The City of Somers Point, named after the heroic Master Commandant's family and still their residence, has worked on repatriation for decades. Additionally, the descendants of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wish for the return of the remains of his uncle, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, who served as second in command on the fire ship Intrepid when it was lost during the Barbary Wars. Born shortly after the failed mission, the legendary poet was named after his heroic uncle.

Family and civic activists were particularly appreciative of the efforts of the national American Legion, which is helping marshal support for repatriation. "The American Legion believes that the nation has a solemn responsibility to use every reasonable effort to bring home those killed in the service of our country," said Barry A. Searle, Director of the National Security Division at headquarters of the veterans service organization.

"We are truly thankful to the House for its leadership in this matter of deep and abiding concern to the families, our city and our nation," Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser said. "Still, we know the battle for Senate approval of the Rogers-LoBiondo measure may be difficult. We're asking veterans and patriotic Americans across the country to contact their US Senator and urge them to support this effort to bring our boys home after two centuries."

Somers and his crew were lost on an ill-fated mission to destroy Tripoli's naval fleet during the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century. When their bodies of America's first Navy commandos washed up on the beach in Tripoli, the bashaw - the king of the pirates - invited a pack of dogs to devour them as American prisoners of war looked on. These 13 naval heroes remain buried today, their remains jumbled together in two Libyan graves. One of those graves is unmarked and underfoot on Green Square, where Gadhafi has held his anti-America rallies for decades.

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