Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Repatriation of Wadsworth remains foiled

December 1 2011

Repatriation of Wadsworth remains foiled

Sen. John McCain keeps Tripoli Repatriation Amendment off Defense Authorization Bill

McCain, seen at the left as a young Navy officer, keeps equally young US Navy Lieutenants Henry Wadsworth, Richard Somers and Joseph Israel buried in unkept graves in Tripoli, along with ten other Navy heroes who died fighting Barbary pirates in 1804.

The plan is kept out of a Senate bill, and the Navy says the bodies of the Maine officer and other Intrepid sailors belong in Tripoli.

By JONATHAN RISKIND MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON - Lt. Henry Wadsworth is not coming home, for now. Historians and his descendants had hoped to recover the remains of the Navy officer from Maine who died in 1804 aboard the Intrepid in Tripoli's harbor. But Maine's senators and other lawmakers were unable to get the repatriation of the Mainer and 12 other sailors into a defense bill that's being voted on this week by the Senate.

Their support failed to shake the opposition of the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain of Arizona, who sources say blocked the amendment from being in the final bill.

That dismayed Jack Wadsworth, 63, of Hiram, a descendant of Revolutionary War Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, Henry's father.

"I am a little bit surprised that this is the way it all turned out. I thought that is what they tried to do anyway, is to bring remains home," Wadsworth said.

State Representative William Wadsworth (left) lobbied Senators to bring remains of long lost relative home from "Shores of Tripoli."

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who worked with the American Legion and Intrepid descendants, is disappointed about the defeat but will continue trying to repatriate the sailors, her office said Wednesday.

The Intrepid tried to sneak into Tripoli's harbor during the First Barbary War and blow up pirate ships that were attacking U.S. merchant vessels, but all 13 aboard were killed and washed ashore.

Killed in action in Tripoli Lt. Henry Wadsworth's US Navy Uniform (Maine Historical Society) -

There is a monument to Wadsworth, who was second-in-command on the Intrepid, in Portland's Eastern Cemetery. The 20-year-old officer was the uncle and namesake of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Henry Wadsworth Longellow (right), nephew and namesake of Lt. Wadsworth, wrote "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" and other historical poems well known to every American student

Richard D'Abate, executive director of the Maine Historical Society, said he talked to the offices of Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, about the repatriation effort, and he still hopes Wadsworth's remains can be brought back to Portland. He noted that Libya's current instability could present obstacles to repatriation in the near future, at least.

US Ambassador to Libya Mr. Gene Cretz and US Military Attache place American flags on the five graves located at Old Protestant Cemetery near Tripoli Harbor

The Navy says it believes the sailors already are in their final resting place - Tripoli's Protestant cemetery, where a ceremony in honor of the Intrepid sailors was attended in 1949 by U.S. and Libyan officials and U.S. sailors and Marines.

"Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert considers the Tripoli Protestant cemetery to be the final resting place of the Intrepid sailors who sacrificed their lives for our nation," said Lt. Cmdr. Alana Garas, a Navy spokeswoman. "Navy custom and tradition is to honor the final resting place of those lost in ships and downed aircraft."

But Michael Caputo, head of the nonprofit Intrepid Project, said the cemetery is not well cared for, is in a country that has been hostile to the United States for decades and remains unstable, and has graves that are dilapidated and in some cases unmarked.

Martyrs Square outside the old Castle Fort, where the only martyrs are US Navy heroes buried in an unmarked grave under a parking lot where public rallies are held.

It is possible that some of the men's bodies were dumped into an unmarked grave beneath Green Square, where the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi held anti-American rallies. But Caputo said new research has established that Wadsworth and most of the other sailors are in the cemetery and could be identified and brought home.

The gravesites are "squalid, unkempt and at risk of falling into the sea," said Caputo, a public relations executive who founded the project as a volunteer after he learned of the Intrepid's history from the family of its commander, Richard Somers.

The cause was taken up in Congress by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who learned of the remains of the Intrepid's sailors in 2004 during a visit to Libya.

Rogers said earlier this year, after the House passed his repatriation legislation, that even though the Navy wants to leave the remains where they are, and considers the graves in Tripoli a final resting place, "our country should never leave a fellow American in uniform behind."

The repatriation would be paid for with Defense Department funds and carried out by an agency that locates and identifies veterans of wars.

Sen. Dean Heller (R. Nev.) introduced the repatriation amendment in the Senate

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who authored the Senate repatriation amendment, said Wednesday that he is disappointed by the failure in the Senate but is "committed to making sure these fallen sailors receive the recognition they deserve, and (I) will continue working with my colleagues until this legislation becomes law."

McCain's office would say only that he is "still reviewing" the issue. But a McCain spokesman noted the Navy's objections to repatriating the remains.

Several sources with knowledge of the situation said McCain blocked the repatriation amendment by objecting to its inclusion in the bill as one of many amendments made in one fell swoop by unanimous consent voice vote. A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.

Although the repatriation provision now is out of the Senate defense bill, it was included in the House-approved defense bill. Snowe plans to keep pressing the issue when the two bills are reconciled, her office said Wednesday.

Collins also has registered support for the repatriation effort.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

On the evening of January 1, 1804, Stephen Longfellow and Zilpah Wadsworth were married...
within a year the early happiness of the young couple was marred by another family tragedy: the death of Zilpah's brother Henry, who was nicknamed Harry. Harry had set out to prove himself in the new United States Navy. He joined the squadron in the Mediterranean Sea to subdue the Barbary pirates, who had been preying on American shipping. It was one of the earliest demonstrations of American might on the international stage, and the battle of Tripoli became famous. Harry was second in command of a vessel loaded with explosives whose mission was to sneak into the harbor and destroy the enemy's gunboats. His ship, however, exploded prematurely. Harry's death affected the entire family deeply, and Zilpah would soon memorialize him in the naming of her second son Henry Wadsworth.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a commanding figure in the cultural life of nineteenth-century America. Born in Portland, Maine in 1807, he became a national literary figure by the 1850s, and a world-famous personality by the time of his death in 1882. He was a traveler, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with the great traditions of European literature and thought. At the same time, he was rooted in American life and history, which charged his imagination with untried themes and made him ambitious for success.


If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought. Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves.

Let us, then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.

Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.

Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.

By The Fireside : Sand Of The Desert In An Hour-Glass

A handful of red sand, from the hot clime
Of Arab deserts brought,
Within this glass becomes the spy of Time,
The minister of Thought.

How many weary centuries has it been
About those deserts blown!
How many strange vicissitudes has seen,
How many histories known!

Perhaps the camels of the Ishmaelite
Trampled and passed it o'er,
When into Egypt from the patriarch's sight
His favorite son they bore.

Perhaps the feet of Moses, burnt and bare,
Crushed it beneath their tread;
Or Pharaoh's flashing wheels into the air
Scattered it as they sped;

Or Mary, with the Christ of Nazareth
Held close in her caress,
Whose pilgrimage of hope and love and faith
Illumed the wilderness;

Or anchorites beneath Engaddi's palms
Pacing the Dead Sea beach,
And singing slow their old Armenian psalms
In half-articulate speech;

Or caravans, that from Bassora's gate
With westward steps depart;
Or Mecca's pilgrims, confident of Fate,
And resolute in heart!

These have passed over it, or may have passed!
Now in this crystal tower
Imprisoned by some curious hand at last,
It counts the passing hour,

And as I gaze, these narrow walls expand;
Before my dreamy eye
Stretches the desert with its shifting sand,
Its unimpeded sky.

And borne aloft by the sustaining blast,
This little golden thread
Dilates into a column high and vast,
A form of fear and dread.

And onward, and across the setting sun,
Across the boundless plain,
The column and its broader shadow run,
Till thought pursues in vain.

The vision vanishes! These walls again
Shut out the lurid sun,
Shut out the hot, immeasurable plain;
The half-hour's sand is run!

O Ship of State

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -are all with thee!

Paul Revere's Ride (The Landlord's Tale)

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in 'Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light, --
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, --
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, --
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride,
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! As he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled, --
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, --
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

The Castle By The Sea.

'Hast thou seen that lordly castle,
That Castle by the Sea?
Golden and red above it
The clouds float gorgeously.

'And fain it would stoop downward
To the mirrored wave below;
And fain it would soar upward
In the evening's crimson glow.'

'Well have I seen that castle,
That Castle by the Sea,
And the moon above it standing,
And the mist rise solemnly.'

'The winds and the waves of ocean,
Had they a merry chime?
Didst thou hear, from those lofty chambers,
The harp and the minstrel's rhyme?'

'The winds and the waves of ocean,
They rested quietly,
But I heard on the gale a sound of wail,
And tears came to mine eye.'

'And sawest thou on the turrets
The King and his royal bride?
And the wave of their crimson mantles?
And the golden crown of pride?

'Led they not forth, in rapture,
A beauteous maiden there?
Resplendent as the morning sun,
Beaming with golden hair?'

'Well saw I the ancient parents,
Without the crown of pride;
They were moving slow, in weeds of woe,
No maiden was by their side!'

The Burial Of The Poet

In the old churchyard of his native town,
And in the ancestral tomb beside the wall,
We laid him in the sleep that comes to all,
And left him to his rest and his renown.
The snow was falling, as if Heaven dropped down
White flowers of Paradise to strew his pall;--
The dead around him seemed to wake, and call
His name, as worthy of so white a crown.
And now the moon is shining on the scene,
And the broad sheet of snow is written o'er
With shadows cruciform of leafless trees,
As once the winding-sheet of Saladin
With chapters of the Koran; but, ah! more
Mysterious and triumphant signs are these.

Congress Set to order Repatriation

The Daily Caller - November 30, 2011

Congress set to order the repatriation of 13 American sailors killed in Libya — against the Navy’s wishes

Published: 11:49 PM 11/29/2011 | Updated: 1:22 PM 11/30/2011

The bodies of 13 American sailors killed in Tripoli may soon be coming home.

This week the Senate is considering an amendment sponsored by Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller to repatriate the remains of the sailors killed when the USS Intrepid exploded in Tripoli’s harbor during the First Barbary War in 1804.

The legislation would mandate that the Department of Defense exhume and identify the sailors’ remains — then bury them in a cemetery close to a living relative. Any unidentified remains would be interred in the Tomb of the Unknown. According to Heller, some of the sailors are interned in mass graves.

“Our nation has a responsibility to make sure that any fallen member of the Armed Forces is treated with respect,” Heller said in a statement. “For more than two hundred years, these sailors have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil. It’s past time that we give these men a proper military burial in the country they died defending.”

Similar legislation, sponsored by Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers and New Jersey Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, passed the House in May.

While the issue would seem uncontroversial, the U.S. Navy has long opposed the idea of repatriation for these men.

In a memo issued last week, Navy Legislative Liaison, Lieutenant Commander Chris Brianas explained that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert concurs with long-held Navy policy arguing that Tripoli is the sailors’ final resting place — especially given that in 1949 the Navy held a formal memorial service for the men.

Senate poised to clear defense bill Thursday
By Josiah Ryan - 11/30/11 07:57 PM ET

Senate leaders plan to finish work on the Department of Defense authorization bill for 2012 on Thursday despite several controversial amendments that still have not been resolved, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) signaled Wednesday evening.

Democratic leaders want to move past the bill, which has consumed the Senate's attention for nearly two legislative weeks, and take up the next fragment of President Obama's jobs bill, a payroll tax cut extension.

The pending defense authorization bill has inflamed passions on both sides of the aisle causing the Senate to take on an intensity and rhythm rarely seen in the legislative process so far this year.

Much of the tension has swirled around a terrorist detainee provision tucked into the legislation's text which both progressives and conservatives argue would allow for the unconstitutional detention of American citizens suspected of terrorism.

A partial list of amendments that cleared the Senate during Wednesday's session follows:

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-La.) amendment to provide for the freedom of conscience of military chaplains with respect to the performance of marriages.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) amendment to modify the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan to provide that a complete and validated full statement of budget resources is ready by not later than September 30, 2014.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) amendment to require a report on the feasibility of using unmanned aerial systems to perform airborne inspection of navigational aids in foreign airspace.
Wicker amendment to improve the transition of members of the Armed Forces with experience in the operation of certain motor vehicles into careers operating commercial motor vehicles in the private sector.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) amendment to authorize the acquisition of real property and associated real property interests in the vicinity of Hanover, New Hampshire, as may be needed for the Engineer Research and Development Center laboratory facilities at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) amendment to redesignate the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital in Nevada as the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center.
Reid amendment to clarify certain provisions of the Clean Air Act relating to fire suppression agents. (#1130)
McCain amendment to require a plan to ensure audit readiness of statements of budgetary resources. (#1132)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) amendment to require a report on the policies and practices of the Navy for naming the vessels of the Navy.
Sen. Kay Hagan (R-N.C.) amendment to require the Comptroller General to review medical research and development sponsored by the Department of Defense relating to improved combat casualty care and saving lives on the battlefield.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) amendment to authorize a land conveyance and exchange at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska.

Amendments to S.1867, DoD Authorization
NOV 30, ’1112:00 PM

...following amendments are pending to S.1867, the DoD Authorization Act: Merkley … (reserve member reintegration) Graham amendment #1179Heller amendment #1137 (make Jerusalem the capital of Israel) Helleramendment #1138 (repatriation of US military remains from Libya) McCainamendment #1247 …

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) amendment to provide for the consideration of energy security and reliability in the development and implementation of energy performance goals.
Warner amendment to promote increasing acquisition and procurement exchanges between officials in the Department of Defense and defense officials in India.
Warner amendment to express the sense of Congress on the use of modeling and simulation in Department of Defense activities.
Warner amendment to express the sense of Congress on ties between the Joint Warfighting and Coalition Center and the Allied Command Transformation of NATO.
Warner amendment to require a report on the effects of planned reductions of personnel at the Joint Warfare Analysis Center on personnel skills at the Center.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) amendment to extend the number of years that multiyear contracts may be entered into for the purchase of advanced biofuels.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) amendment relating to man-portable air-defense systems originating from Libya.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) amendment to require the maintenance of a triad of strategic nuclear delivery systems.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oka.) amendment to require the Comptroller General of the United States reports on the major automated information system programs of the Department of Defense.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) amendment to require an assessment of the advisability of stationing additional DDG-51 class destroyers at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) amendment to require a certification on efforts by the Government of Pakistan to implement a strategy to counter improvised explosive devices.
McCain - Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) amendment to require a Comptroller General report on redundancies, inefficiencies, and gaps in DOD 6.1-6.3 Science and Technology (S&T) programs.
McCain-Portman amendment to require a Comptroller General report on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives.
Shaheen amendment to require a Department of Defense assessment of the industrial base for night vision image intensification sensors.• Warner amendment to provide for installation energy metering requirements.
McCain amendment to provide for increased efficiency and a reduction of Federal spending require for data servers and centers.
McCain amendment to require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the probationary period in the development of the short take-off, vertical landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter.
Warner amendment to establish a training policy for Department of Defense energy managers.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) amendment to require a pilot program on the receipt by members of the Armed Forces of civilian credentialing for skills requires of military occupational specialties.
McCain amendment to require the Secretary of Defense to submit, with the budget justification materials supporting the Department of Defense budget request for fiscal year 2013, information on the implementation of recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office with respect to the acquisition of launch services through the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
McCain amendment to require a plan for normalizing defense cooperation with the Republic of Georgia.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) amendment to extend the time limit for submittal of claims under TRICARE for care provided outside the United States.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) amendment to authorize the award of the distinguished service cross for captain Frederick L. Spaulding for acts of valor during the Vietnam War.
Levin amendment to authorize the exchange with the United Kingdom of certain F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) amendment to require the Secretary of Defense to submit to Congress a long-term plan for maintaining a minimal capacity to produce intercontinental ballistic missile solid rocket motors.
Portman amendment to require a report on the analytic capabilities of the Department of Defense regarding foreign ballistic missile threats.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) amendment to extend the authorization for a military construction project for the Air National Guard to relocate a munitions storage complex at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Mississippi.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) amendment to require exploration of opportunities to increase foreign military training with allies at test and training ranges in the continental United States.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) amendment to require a report on the approval and implementation of the Air Sea Battle Concept.
NOV 30, ’1112:00 PM
Amendments to S.1867, DoD Authorization

Heller amendment #1137 (make Jerusalem the capital of Israel)
Heller amendment #1138 (repatriation of US military remains from Libya)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Senate Considers Repatriation Amendment

The Senate will convene at 1:00pm on Monday, November 28, 2011. Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of S.1867, the Department of Defense Authorization Act.
Additional roll call votes in relation to amendments to the DoD Authorization act are possible Monday evening.

The following amendments are pending to S.1867, the DoD Authorization Act:
• Heller amendment #1138 (repatriation of US military remains from Libya)

Rep. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, introduced the Heller amendment to Defense Bill

Senators look to repatriate 1804 commandos of Tripoli

"That repatriation is even a real option is a major turn of events, made possible by politics."

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
Sunday, November 27, 2011

For years, the Navy has been reluctant to reclaim the remains of its first 13 commandos, who perished in a failed raid on Tripoli Harbor in Libya in 1804 - but pressure has been growing in Congress to force it to do just that.

A final showdown could happen this week in the Senate, where Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, has offered an amendment to compel the Navy to bring home the mangled bodies of the 13, who died while trying to destroy a pirate fleet during the Barbary Wars.

But the Navy is quietly resisting, telling senators that it would prefer to leave the bodies in the two different burial locations.

"These servicemen are currently buried in poorly kept mass graves far away from the country they served and died defending," Mr. Heller said. "Bringing them home and giving these men a proper military burial will allow their families and other Americans an opportunity to better remember the sacrifices they made for our great nation."

That repatriation is even a real option is a major turn of events, made possible by politics.
For much of the past few decades, the chances were stymied by the turbulent U.S. relationship with Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who alternately ran cold, then hot, then cold toward the idea, which was being pushed by descendants of the commandos.

But the Gadhafi regime now has been overthrown, and the repatriation effort has the support of the two national heavyweight veterans groups, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
But the Navy stands in the way.

The Navy has not provided an explanation or comment despite repeated requests by The Washington Times last week, nor did it respond in May when the repatriation effort first came before Congress during a vote in the House.

Adm. Gary Roughead, former Chief of Naval Operations - "Tripoli final resting place."

But in a 2008 letter, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations at the time, wrote Rep. Mike Rogers, a sponsor of the House repatriation effort, telling the congressman that the Navy is satisfied with the Tripoli burial.

"Navy custom and tradition has been to honor the final resting place of those lost in downed ships and aircraft," the admiral wrote. "The Navy considers the Tripoli cemetery to be the final resting place of these sailors who sacrificed their lives for our nation."

Despite the Navy's objections, the House included repatriation language in its version of the annual defense policy bill. The Senate is taking up its own version of that bill, which is considered one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation.

If the Senate follows the House's lead by adopting the amendment Mr. Heller has proposed, it will virtually ensure that the language becomes law.

More than 100 amendments to the bill are pending, though, and much will depend on Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. If Mr. Levin accepts the amendment, it should be adopted without problem, but if he opposes it, that could precipitate a floor fight.

Mr. Levin's office didn't return a message seeking comment, though repatriation supporters, who came to Capitol Hill this month to lobby, said he committed to giving them floor time for the amendment.

The supporters also said they have been "amazed" at the efforts of Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat who served as Navy secretary in the Reagan administration and who has been forceful in advocating for the commandos' return.

The commandos were part of President Jefferson's war against the Barbary pirates, who terrorized shipping off the coast of North Africa in the early 1800s. The commandos died while on a stealth mission to infiltrate Tripoli's harbor and sail a flaming ship into the enemy fleet that lay anchored there, trying to destroy it and force the release of U.S. sailors whom the pirates imprisoned on land.

Their ship, the USS Intrepid, caught fire prematurely either by accident or because it was hit by a shot from the enemy, and all 13 men perished. The bodies of the commandos, who some say are the early version of today's SEALs, were recovered by the residents of Tripoli.

According to accounts, the remains were fed to dogs, then the U.S. prisoners of war were forced to bury what was left. At some point, five of the sailors' remains ended up at a separate location known as the Old Protestant Cemetery.

In his 2008 letter, Adm. Roughead said the Navy in 1949 held a formal memorial ceremony for the sailors at the grave site, and he agreed that the site needs better care.

There are historical precedents, however, for repatriation, including naval hero John Paul Jones, whose remains President Theodore Roosevelt ordered be brought back from Paris and reburied at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Intrepid Commander Lt. Richard Somers, USN, native son of Somers Point, NJ.

The Navy commandos' repatriation has been championed by descendants of the men and by the town of Somers Point, N.J., named after the family of Lt. Richard Somers, who led the band of commandos on their fatal mission.

In an 1842 profile of Somers for Graham's Magazine, novelist James Fenimore Cooper said that "it might be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

American Legion Legislative Update

Here Lies An American Sailor Who Gave His Life In The Explosion of the United States Ship Intrepid Tripoli Harbor September 4, 1804

US Senate to consider fate of Intrepid Crew

View American Legion video:

American Legion - Legislation Action Center Update -

Next week, the U.S. Senate will take up the issue of whether the remains of 13 American naval heroes – tossed into a mass grave more than 200 years ago – should be returned to their native land for proper burial with military honors.

On Sept. 4, 1804, Master Commandant Richard Somers and his crew were killed in action during the Barbary Wars when their ship, the USS Intrepid, exploded in Tripoli Harbor off the coast of Libya. Their bodies washed ashore and were eventually buried by fellow sailors taken prisoner by the enemy.

The issue of whether to remove the Intrepid crew from Libya is a contentious one. Descendants of Somers and his second-in-command, Henry Wadsworth, have been pressing Congress to do whatever is necessary to bring some of America’s earliest war heroes back home. Last spring, The American Legion passed a resolution in support of the move, and the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed an amendment calling upon the secretary of Defense to take action.

The U.S. Navy opposes the repatriation of the Intrepid crew’s remains, citing an official April 1949 ceremony at a Protestant cemetery where several – not all – of the sailors were buried. In a March 2010 document, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead wrote, “Since these remains are associated with the loss of the Intrepid, Tripoli’s Protestant Cemetery has been officially recognized by the Department of the Navy as the final resting place for her crew.”

According to Michael Caputo, coordinator of the grassroots group Intrepid Project, the entire Intrepid crew may not be interred at the Protestant cemetery. “Some of the enlisted crewmembers may still be buried adjacent to what is now called Martyr’s Square,” he said. “As for the cemetery itself, it is essentially in a shambles, with shattered markers and grounds that are not being maintained.”

Last week, current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert confirmed the Navy’s stand on the issue in a Nov. 16 memo that said the admiral “has reviewed and concurs with the previous Navy position of not supporting the proposed legislation.” The memo went on to point out that repatriating the Intrepid crew’s remains would cost between $85,000 and $100,000. “This does not include costs associated with DNA testing and analysis …. Nor does it include the cost for the Navy to contract out genealogical research….”

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., introduced a bill on Nov. 8 to bring Somers and his crew back home from Tripoli. The legislation would require DoD to exhume the remains, identify them and return them to the United States “for military burial.”

Fang A. Wong, national commander of The American Legion, sent Heller a letter of support that said, “It is incumbent upon Congress to direct recovery of those remains of Americans within Tripoli. Given the turmoil in Libya, America must take the opportunity to repatriate these remains now.”

Heller said that America, “has a duty to ensure that any fallen member of the armed forces is treated with utmost respect. The American Legion has always been a faithful advocate for their brothers and sisters in arms, and on this issue, it is no different. I appreciate their support as we work together to retrieve our heroes from foreign shores.”

Last week, descendants of Somers and Wadsworth, and other advocates visited several senators in Washington to drum up support for Heller’s legislation. Accompanying them was Dean Stoline, deputy director of the Legion’s Legislative Division.

Stoline said the group, “lobbied the Senate for two hard days to support their request to bring home the remains of their loved ones and other crew members of the USS Intrepid. I think their request was well received and several senators – such as Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. – have now signed on to help push the legislation introduced by Sen. Heller.”

Next week, the Senate will debate the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). An amendment supporting the return of the Intrepid crew may or may not be part of the final package. The American Legion will keep working with the Senate, urging it to act on the Intrepid crew issue.

“Our strategy is simple,” said Tim Tetz, director of the Legion’s Legislative Division. “We must impress upon the Senate the importance of passing an amendment to NDAA that grants the wish of the Somers and Wadsworth families – return their relatives. The House unanimously agreed to this. Now the Senate must do so.”

Legislative Action Center Headlines
Senate to consider fate of Intrepid crew

ARM11F52 S.L.C.


Purpose: To provide for the exhumation and transfer of remains of deceased members of the Armed Forces buried in Tripoli, Libya.


S. 1867

To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Referred to the Committee ..... and ordered to be printed.

Ordered to lie on the table and be printed.

AMENDMENT intended to be proposed by Mr. HELLER (for himself, Mr. Brown of Massachusetts Mr. BOOZMAN, Mr. WEBB, Mr. KERRY, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, and Mr. WYDEN)


1 At the end of subtitle H of title X, add the following:
5 (a) IN GENERAL. – The Secretary of Defense shall
6 take whatever actions may be necessary to –
7 (1) exhume the remains of any deceased mem-
8 bers of the Armed Forces of the United States so

ARM11F52 S.L.C.

1 identified and buried at a burial site described in
2 subsection (b);
3 (2) transfer such remains to an appropriate
4 forensics laboratory to be identified;
5 (3) in the case of any remains that are identi-
6 fied, transport the remains to a veterans cemetery
7 located in proximity, as determined by the Secretary,
8 to the closest living family member of the decease
9 individual or at another cemetery as determined by
10 the Secretary;
11 (4) for any member of the Armed Forces whose
12 remains are identified, provide a military funeral
13 and burial; and
14 (5) in the case of any remains identified an
15 exhumed under paragraph (1) that cannot be fur-
16 ther identified, transport such remains to Arlington
17 National Cemetery for interment at an appropriate
18 Grave marker identifying the United States Navy
19 Sailors of the USS Intrepid who gave their lives on
20 September 4, 1804, in Tripoli, Libya.
21 (b) BURIAL SITES DESCRIBED. – The burial sites de-
22 scribed in this subsection are the following:
23 (1) The Mass burial site containing the remains
24 of the five United States sailors located in Protestant
25 Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya

ARM11F52 S.L.C.

1 (2) The mass burial site containing the remains
2 of eight United States sailors located near the walls
3 of the Tripoli Castle in Tripoli, Libya.
4 (c) REPORT. – Not later than 180 days after the ef-
5 fective date of this section, the Secretary shall submit to
6 Congress a report describing the status of the actions
7 Under this section. The report shall include an estimate
8 Of the date of the completion of the actions undertaken,
9 And to be undertaken, under this section.
10 (d) EFFECTIVE DATE. – This section takes effect on
11 the date on which Operation Unified Protector of the
12 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or any suc-
13 Cessor operation, terminates.

Martyrs Square - the old castle fort - where the only martyrs buried there are US Navy heroes

Friday, November 18, 2011

Somers, Wadworth Families seek Repatriation

Descendants of Navy heroes urge passage of Senate amendment ordering return of remains

(SOMERS POINT, NJ) - The descendants of 13 US Navy heroes buried on "the shores of Tripoli" returned home from Washington satisfied with the results of two days of back-to-back meetings on Capitol Hill working closely with Senate staff and veterans service organizations to bring their forebears home.

"All of us were humbled by the interest and attention we were granted by senior staff representing 33 different US Senators across two very long days," Connecticut State Rep. William Wadsworth said. "Almost all of the meetings were positive and we were happy to see four Democratic Senators signed on as co-sponsors of the bipartisan measure to bring our heroes home."

Wadsworth is a descendant of the family of Lt. Henry Wadsworth, second in command of the USS Intrepid. Lt. Wadsworth and his crewmates were killed on an 1804 US Navy mission during the Barbary Wars. Their bodies washed ashore and were dragged through the streets of Tripoli, fed to wild dogs and dumped in mass graves. They are still buried there today.

Senate Amendment 1138 - which requires the Department of Defense to repatriate the crew's remains - was called up today and now awaits a vote in the US Senate. The US Navy opposes the repatriation of their first combat heroes and is quietly asking Senators to reject the measure.

"These sailors are heroes whose exploits are celebrated by the Navy every day," Somers Point, NJ resident Dean Somers said. "I simply cannot understand why the Navy opposes repatriation; we know exactly where they are and the locals are supportive. Enough is enough - it's time to bring our boys home."

Somers is a descendant of the family of Master Commandant Richard Somers, the commander of the USS Intrepid who led the heroic mission and was killed defending our nation. The families of The Intrepid heroes have asked the Department of Defense to right this wrong and bring the men home for a proper and honorable burial. The Navy has refused for 207 years.

In May, Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Rep. Mike Rogers attached an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring repatriation that passed unanimously in the House of Representatives. A similar amendment to the NDAA was submitted this week by Republicans Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Scott Brown and Sen. John Boozman and gained the co-sponsorship of Democrats Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Robert Menendez, and former US Navy Secretary Sen. James Webb.

The national Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion endorsed the legislation requiring repatriation of the USS Intrepid sailors. The two groups are actively lobbying Congress to pass the amendment and bring The Intrepid heroes home.

For more information on The Intrepid Project please visit
NOVEMBER 18, 2011

Warrior Legacy Foundation

Today the first US Navy commandos lie abandoned in mass graves in a foreign land. When their bodies washed up on the "Shores of Tripoli" in 1804, the Libyan dictator dragged them through the streets and invited a pack of dogs to devour them as American prisoners of war looked on. More than 207 years later these 13 naval heroes remain buried in broken down mass graves.

With Muamar Ghadafi dead, we can finally repatriate their remains - but we need your help. Please donate whatever you can afford to help us bring our boys home and honor them for their service to our nation!

Your generous donation is tax deductible.

Somers Point Historical Society invited you to
Benefit Richard Somers Monument
Wine Tasting

Sun, Nov 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Sign up for $30 or donate to Richard Somers Monument fund.
Gregory's Bar and Restaurant
900 Shore Road
Somers Point NJ 08244

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lawmakers, veterans work to repatriate remains

The USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, now a museum docked in New York harbor, is the namesake of the original USS Intrepid, which exploded in Tripoli Harbor in 1804, killing three officers and ten men, who were buried on the beach outside the walls of the old castle fort that is now Martyrs Square.

Lawmakers, veterans work to repatriate remains of American sailors killed in Libya two centuries ago

The Daily Caller - DC - Published: 11/10/2011

By Caroline May

Veterans groups are one step closer to achieving the long-held goal of repatriating the remains of 13 sailors killed and buried in Tripoli 207 years ago during the war with the Barbary Pirates.

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, Arkansas Republican Sen. John Boozman and Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown have introduced legislation that would put the force of law behind the USO’s heralded motto “Until Everyone Comes Home.

“Our nation has a responsibility to make sure that any fallen member of the Armed Forces is treated with respect,” said Heller. “For more than two hundred years, these sailors have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil. It’s past time that we give these men a proper military burial in the country they died defending.”

The three senators’ bill would require the Defense Department to exhume the remains of the sailors, killed in the explosion of the USS Intrepid, from Tripoli; identify them; and send them to veterans cemeteries closest to the deceased sailors’ living family members.

If the remains cannot be identified, they would be interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The legislative proposal is the Senate’s answer to similar House language passed in May as part of the defense authorization bill.

“This legislation serves as a reminder to all service men and women that we will never cease in our efforts to bring a fallen service member home, nor will we ever forget the sacrifices that have been made by them and their families,” said Boozman.

American Legion spokesman Marty Callaghan told The Daily Caller that with Gadhafi dead and a new government in transition, now would be a good time to bring these men home.

“It seems like a good time to really push after more than two centuries,” Callaghan said. “And there have been several attempts through the years to try to bring these heroes home, and always something has gotten in the way.”

Callaghan explained that some of the sailors are currently buried in Martyrs’ Square, and others are buried in a poorly kept Protestant cemetery which has been used as a burial site for diplomats through the centuries.

In a letter to Heller on Tuesday, Veterans of Foreign Wars’ national legislative director Raymond Kelley offered his group’s support for the initiative.

“For more than 200 years these war heroes have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil,” Kelley wrote. “Unlike other U.S. graves on foreign soil such as Normandy, these heroes received no military burial. In fact several sailors are buried in one ‘mass’ grave, testifying to the disrespect shown when they were interned. It is time to bring them home to have a proper military burial.”

Callaghan noted that the effort to bring these sailors back has met opposition from the U.S. Navy, which considers Tripoli to be the sailors’ final resting place.

“Navy custom and tradition has been to honor the final resting place of those lost in downed ships and aircraft,” Adm. Gary Roughead, then chief of naval operations, wrote in 2008, according to Stars and Stripes. “The Navy considers the Tripoli cemetery to be the final resting place of these Sailors who sacrificed their lives for our Nation.”
But with veterans groups pushing, Congress has taken notice.

“Gathering the remains of these brave sailors, two of whom were from Massachusetts, demonstrates America’s commitment to pay tribute to our fallen heroes, no matter how much time has passed,” said Brown. “With reports that some still remain in a mass grave, we have a duty to ensure our sailors are buried with the honor and respect they deserve.”


A monumental waste of time, money and effort. These resources could better be used on providing services to living veterans.

You obviously were raised without honor; just shut up while you're ahead, OK?

Michaelr caputo
Yakker: A monumental waste of time? You've obviously never served in the military. If you have, you appear to have forgotten what it means to serve. BRING THESE BOYS HOME!

Rocket Surgeon
How appropriate for this story to appear on the 236th birthday of the Marine Corps. "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli . . ."
There is an idea for the southern border!

This bill needs to be passed if only for the peace of the generations after the fact.How many generations have gone on knowing that a loved one is in a mass grave in some far off land with no marker to who they are.

The Kingfish
Why would they put them in the tomb of the unknown soldier if they're not unknown?

Only the three officers, - Somers, Wadsworth and Israel can be positively identified by DNA because they have living relations who are seeking their return. The other ten seamen, volunteers all, have names but their bodies cannot be positively identified, so they are considered unknown, unless their living relatives can be found and come forward and supply DNA that can be matched to them. At least one of the men buried at the Tomb of the Unknown soldiers at Arlington has been identified and he was removed and buried separately. Bill Kelly - author of
Remember the Intrepid

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canadian Ramp Ceremony & Americans at Dover

When an American serviceman is killed in combat in a foreign country, their remains are taken to a medical facility in Germany for an autopsy and then flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where they are returned to their family or buried at a military cemetery like Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

All we are asking for is that the 13 men of the Intrepid be treated like any other American soldier or sailor killed in action, and that they too be given an autopsy at a military base in Europe and returned home via Dover AFB before being given a proper burial with military honors.

At the time of the war with Iraq, President Bush banned the photographing or reporting on the return of the dead at Dover, so there was a total blackout for quite sometime, until it was decided to allow the families of the dead to decide if they wanted photographs taken.

Canadians, who have also been involved in operations in Afghanistan and Libya, have what they call a "Ramp Ceremony" whenever the remains of a dead serviceman is returned home.

When the casket of a Canadian soldier is removed from a plane, everyone in the area stops whatever it is they are doing, stands at attention and salutes as the casket is unloaded. Sometimes a bagpipe plays "Amazing Grace" an anthem or similar song.

If you Google "Canadian Ramp Ceremony" videos you can see one for yourself or go here:

I first learned of the Canadian Ramp Ceremony from a radio interview with Canadian singer-songweriter Bruce Cockburn, who performed for troops in Afghanistan two years ago, and experienced a Ramp Ceremony on his return, an experience that inspired him to write a song about it.

Each One Lost (Camden East 13/09/09) -Bruce Cockburn: "On the way into Kandahar Airfield from Ottawa, our little group spend a few hours at Camp Mirage, a Canadian staging base in the Middle East. As we were about to board our next plane, we found ourselves part of a Ramp Ceremony, honouring the remains of two young Canadian Forces members who had been killed that day and were being sent home. One of the saddest and most moving scenes I've ever been privileged to witness...this song is dedicated to the memory of Major Yannick P├ępin and Corporal Jean-Francois Drouin."


Under the big lights
shadows stretching long
the ramp is lowered gently to the tarmac
and all of us, we wait
in this sea of gravity
for the precious cargo to appear

Here come the dead boys
moving slowly past
the pipes and prayers and strained commanding voices
and the tears in our hearts
make an ocean we're all in
all in this together don't you know

You can die on your sofa
safe inside your home
or die in a mess of flame and shrapnel
we all in our time go
you know you're not alone
you're in the hearts of everybody here
Each one lost
is everyone's loss you see
each one lost is a vital part of you and me
Some would have us bow
in bondage to their dreams
of little gods who lay down laws to live by
but all these inventions
arise from fear of love
and open-hearted tolerance and trust

Well screw the rule of law
we want the rule of love
enough to fight and die to keep it coming
if that sounds like confusion
brother think again
we know exactly what we chose
Each one lost
is everyone's loss you see
each one lost is a vital part of you and me

The term "ramp ceremony" has, since about 2005 and during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, come to have a particular meaning - that of a solemn memorial ceremony for a coalition soldier killed in a war zone. The ceremony usually takes place at an airfield near or in a war zone, where an airplane is usually waiting nearby to take the soldier's remains to his or her home country.[20] A ramp ceremony is not an actual funeral; the funeral is usually conducted in the deceased's home country.

Ramp ceremony inspires new Cockburn song
By BRIAN SHYPULA, Staff Reporter

Bruce Cockburn wrote the angry anthem "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" in the early '80s after visiting Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico that had been attacked by Guatemalan military helicopters.

The emotion of a ramp ceremony for two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan in September also inspired a song from the social and political activist-performer. It will be on his new album next year, but he's already performing it on his current tour, which stops in Stratford this Saturday.

The 64-year-old was part of the Team Canada delegation that visited and performed for Canadian troops at Kandahar two months ago. At the stopover at a Canadian Forces base en route, the team members found themselves on the tarmac as the coffins of two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan were being off-loaded from a flight from Kandahar. The delegation, which included Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, joined the ramp ceremony.

"It was a very sombre and beautiful and sad ceremony, very touching," Mr. Cockburn said in a recent phone interview.

The peace activist, who supports Canada's mission in Afghanistan, spoke about his experiences in the war zone.

Joining Team Canada gave him the chance to see first-hand what his younger brother, Capt. John Cockburn, a doctor in the Canadian Forces at the hospital at Kandahar airfield, has told him about Afghanistan.

"We went outside the wire and did some of the forward operating bases," he said. "Before doing that we got a really revolting first-aid briefing on what to do in the event of an attack and someone getting injured."

They were shown graphic photos of wounds and given briefings on IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from the soldiers whose job it is to defuse the roadside bombs.

Mr. Cockburn said Team Canada was given the "official" word on Canada's mission, but the members were free to speak to the soldiers, something he really enjoyed and that helped him form his opinion.

The soldiers' morale is high, and their message is "very clear" that they don't want to pull out of Afghanistan before their job is done, he said.

"There was absolutely no griping."

Richard Somers Monument Benefit

Richard Somers Monument Benefit

The Richard Somers Monument Committee, responsible for the creation of a monument to Richard Somers in Somers Point, will hold a wine tasting party at Gregory's Restaurant, on Shore Road in Somers Point, NJ, beginning at 7:00 PM on Sunday, November 20, 2011.

The cost is $30, a donation that includes the wine tasting and Hor D'oeuvres. The event will also include a 50/50, and auction that will benefit the Richard Somers Monument, that will be erected at Richard Somers Park, next to the public library, where his remains will be reburied if and when they are repatriated home.

Please sign up and pay in advance. Benefits the Richard Somers Monument.

You can also make a pay pal donation at the Somers Point Historical Society web site:

This is a monument to Richard Somers at Somers, New York, a town named after the US Naval hero who remains buried under a parking lot at Martyr's Square Tripoli.

The name of Richard Somers is engraved on the Tripoli Monument at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, along with the names of the other naval officers who lost their lives in America's first foreign war.

Somers & Men of Intrepid Remembered on Vets Day

Korean War veteran John Varallo from Mays landing, Vice Commander of Atlantic County Korean War Veterans during a moment of silence at Patriot Park in Somers Point during a Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the Veterans Service Organizations of Somers Point. Friday November , 11 2011 ANTHONY SMEDILE

"Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser said the turnout, especially in the chilly conditions, shows how much support the city has for its veterans. But Glasser also used the ceremony to update his plea for the remains of one of the city's most famous veterans and its namesake - Navy Master Commandant Richard Somers - to be returned home."

"In 1804, Somers was ordered to load the ketch USS Intrepid with explosives, sail it into Tripoli Harbor, and explode it among the ships of the Libyan fleet. But the mission failed when the ship exploded prematurely - possibly on purpose to prevent the ammunition from getting into the hands of enemy pirates - and the bodies of Somers and his 12 crew members have been buried in Libya ever since, despite efforts spanning more than a century to bring them home."

"Glasser said a bill is about to go before the U.S. Senate, sponsored by a trio of out-of-state senators, calling for the recovery of the remains of all 13 men."

"'We are asking everyone to contact our senators - Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez - to urge their support for this bill so we can finally bring him home,' Glasser said."

By ROB SPAHR, Staff Writer |

SOMERS POINT - More than 100 people gathered at Patriot Park on Friday morning to honor the men and women who fought for their country.

A cold wind left many of those in attendance shivering in place and assorted flags whipping violently in the air during the ceremony. But U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, said things could have been worse.

"Imagine what the conditions are like in the mountains of Afghanistan right now," LoBiondo told the crowd. "Land of the free, home of the brave? This is the land of the free because of the brave."

Many recent tributes to veterans have highlighted the members of World War II's "Greatest Generation," particularly with the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor less than a month away. But the event's emcee, Atlantic County Veterans Services Director Robert Frolow, said Friday's ceremony honored all veterans, regardless of when or how they served.

"The veterans from each conflict are the greatest members of their generation," said Frolow, a veteran of the Vietnam War, adding that honor extends all the way from those who fought on the front lines to truck drivers and cooks. "They all served a job representing the greatest country in the world."

Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser said the turnout, especially in the chilly conditions, shows how much support the city has for its veterans. But Glasser also used the ceremony to update his plea for the remains of one of the city's most famous veterans and its namesake - Navy Master Commandant Richard Somers - to be returned home.

In 1804, Somers was ordered to load the ketch USS Intrepid with explosives, sail it into Tripoli Harbor, and explode it among the ships of the Libyan fleet. But the mission failed when the ship exploded prematurely - possibly on purpose to prevent the ammunition from getting into the hands of enemy pirates - and the bodies of Somers and his 12 crew members have been buried in Libya ever since, despite efforts spanning more than a century to bring them home.

Glasser said a bill is about to go before the U.S. Senate, sponsored by a trio of out-of-state senators, calling for the recovery of the remains of all 13 men.

"We are asking everyone to contact our senators - Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez - to urge their support for this bill so we can finally bring him home," Glasser said.

Also Friday, World War II veteran Paul Krizauskas was posthumously awarded a Bronze Medal for his service during the infamous Battle of the Bulge in Europe.

"My father would have said that his was not his award, that it belonged to his buddy who was killed in the foxhole next to him," said Judy Corcoran, 68, of Linwood, who accepted her father's medal along with other members of her family who came to ceremony from as far away as Alaska. "In fact, he only spoke of this (incident) to us once, and that was in the late 1940s."

Contact Rob Spahr:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

US Senate Bill - Bring Home Tripoli Heroes

US Senate Bill Brings Home Fallen Sailors of Tripoli

For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2011

Heller, Boozman, Brown Bill Brings Home Fallen Sailors of Tripoli

(Washington DC) - Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a bill along with Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Scott Brown (R-MA) to repatriate the remains of sailors killed in the First Barbary War. The sailors currently lie in burial sites in Tripoli, Libya.

"Our nation has a responsibility to make sure that any fallen member of the Armed Forces is treated with respect. For more than two hundred years, these sailors have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil. It's past time that we give these men a proper military burial in the country they died defending," said Senator Heller.

"This legislation serves as a reminder to all service men and women that we will never cease in our efforts to bring a fallen service member home, nor will we ever forget the sacrifices that have been made by them and their families," Senator Boozman said.

"Gathering the remains of these brave sailors, two of whom were from Massachusetts, demonstrates America's commitment to pay tribute to our fallen heroes, no matter how much time has passed. With reports that some still remain in a mass grave, we have a duty to ensure our sailors are buried with the honor and respect they deserve," said Senator Brown.

These sailors were killed when the U.S. Ketch INTREPID exploded in the Tripoli Harbor in September 1804. Some were buried in mass graves, signifying the disrespect shown at time of the internment. The graves remain isolated and in poor condition.

This legislation would require the Department of Defense to exhume their remains, identify them and send them to a veterans cemetery located in proximity to the closest living family member or at another cemetery determined by the Secretary for military burial. If any remains cannot be identified, they would be sent to Arlington National Cemetery for internment at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Similar legislation, introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-08) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars issued a letter in support of this legislation. A copy of the letter is viewable here:

More Info:

The Intrepid Project
12864 Biscayne Blvd, #332
North Miami, FL 33181

Senate Contacts:
Stewart Bybee (Heller)202-224-6244
Sara Lasure (Boozman) 202-224-4843
John Donnelly (Brown) 202-224-4543

Master Commandant Richard Somers is from New Jersey
The NJ Legislature passed a motion supporting this.
Where are the New Jersey Senators Lautenberg and Menendez?
They are MIA.

Las Vegas Sun Article

Sen. Dean Heller sponsors bill to bring remains of American sailors back from Tripoli
By Karoun Demirjian (contact)
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 |

Dean Heller

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller introduced a bill this week, along with Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, to repatriate the remains of 13 sailors who were buried in mass graves at Tripoli during the First Barbary War in 1804.

“Our nation has a responsibility to make sure that any fallen member of the Armed Forces is treated with respect. For more than 200 years, these sailors have laid to rest in a cemetery on foreign soil,” Heller said. “Its past time that we give these men a proper military burial in the country they died defending.”

This is not a constituent move, as the U.S.S. Intrepid -- a ship loaded with explosives that had entered the harbor off the Libyan capitol of Tripoli on a mission, but blew up prematurely, killing Captain Richard Somers of New Jersey and the rest of those aboard -- went down about 60 years before Nevada became a state.

House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers and New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo have been pushing a similar bill in the House. It’s been a particular interest of Rogers’ since he first learned of the graves on a visit to Libya in 2004; in 2006, the bodies were partially exhumed but then re-buried.

The Department of Defense has not been too eager to arrange for the transfer of the soldiers, as the mission would likely be a Pandora’s box, paving the way for further repatriation requests from other wars. (For example, there are over 5,000 fallen American soldiers from World War II buried in Luxembourg alone.)

The soldiers from U.S.S. Intrepid were given a ceremonial burial in 1947, 242 years after the conclusion of hostilities of the First Barbary War -- the first of two, in fact, fought to bring an end to the frequent and expensive acts of piracy conducted by the “Barbary states” (Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli) against U.S. vessels.

The wars were the first wartime venture for the U.S. Navy under the newly-organized Department of the Navy (est. 1798), and ended the practice of paying tribute to local sultans to keep the pirates at bay.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remember the Men of the Intrepid on Veterans Day

The remains of Master Commandant Richard Somers, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, Lt. Joseph Israel and five men of the first USS Intrepid are buried in a mass, unmarked grave under this parking lot outside the walls of the old castle fort at Martyrs Square, Tripoli.

Remember the Men of the Intrepid on Veterans Day.

Friday, November 11th is Veterans Day, a national holiday that we celebrate in honor of all of those who have served in the military.

Regardless of what day it is, when I learn someone is a veteran I automatically thank them for serving their country, and on special holidays I think of my father, a B-17 airman during WWII and his brother, my uncle Leo, who I never knew because he was killed in combat aboard the battleship South Dakota and honorably buried at sea.

Veterans Day is for those who lived and survived to tell the stories of those who gave their lives – the ultimate sacrifice, so we can live the way we do.

On this Veterans Day I ask all veterans to remember Richard Somers and the men of the first USS Intrepid, whose remains are still buried in Tripoli, and to try to mention them at any official ceremony that is held on this Veterans Day 2011. It is especially appropriate to think of them at this time as the US Senate considers a resolution to repatriate the remains of our servicemen from Tripoli (attached as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act), so they can be properly reburied at home with full honors.

As James Fenimore Cooper wrote over a century ago, “Here then lie the remains of Somers and his gallant friends; and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land.”

William Kelly
And thanks for being a Veteran

The remains of five of the men of the Intrepid are buried in five marked crypts at this walled cemetery near Tripoli harbor, Libya.

James Fenimore Cooper, in Graham’s Magazine (Vol. XXI, No. 4, circa 1850) wrote a
profile of Richard Somers in which he authoritatively reported, “…The
ten seamen were buried on the beach outside the town near the walls;
while the three officers were interred in the same grave, on the plain
beyond, or cable’s length [200 yards] to the southward and eastward of
the earth. Small stones were placed at the four corners of the last
grave, to mark its site; but they were shortly after removed by the
Turks, who refused to let what they conceived to be a Christian
monument, disfigure their land.”

“Here, then, lie the remains of Somers, and his two gallant friends;
and it might be well to instruct the commander of some national
cruiser to search for their bones, that they might be finally
incorporated with the dust of their native land. Their identity would
at once be established by the number of the skeletons, and the friends
of the deceased might find a melancholy consolation in being permitted
to drop a tear over the spot in which they would be finally entombed.”

US Ambassador to Libya Mr. Gene Cretz and US Military attache Brian Linvill place American flags at the five graves of the men of the Intrepid at Old Protestant Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2010.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two Centuries Later

Two centuries later, group seeks to bring home sailors killed off the shores of Tripoli
Gadhafi's ouster sparks hope for the return of fallen Marylanders,0,7522968.story

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
7:30 p.m. EDT, November 1, 2011

For the American sailors off Tripoli — five of them from Maryland — it was a suicide mission: Sail the small ship heavy with explosives in among the enemy fleet, set the blast to go off in 15 minutes, jump into lifeboats and get as far away as possible.

The crew of the Intrepid would never make it. The fireship ignited early, killing all 13 men aboard.

The bodies washed ashore, to be fed on by dogs and dragged through the streets of Tripoli. They eventually would be buried in a pair of sites.

More than two centuries later, an ad hoc group that includes history buffs, military veterans and descendants of the sailors is working to repatriate those remains for burial with honors on U.S. soil.

After the success of another military engagement with Tripoli — theNATO-assisted ouster of Moammar Gadhafi — the group now sees the best opportunity yet to bring the Intrepid 13 back home.

"We are very, very encouraged right now, obviously, with the leadership change in Libya," said Jack Glasser, the mayor of Somers Point, N.J., the hometown of Richard Somers, who led the Intrepid on its fatal mission in 1804.

"We're hoping that leadership there will be more open than Gadhafi was."

The effort has brought together an Arnold historian, a former campaign adviser to Ronald Reagan and Boris N. Yeltsin, and the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.The loose group has legislation pending in Congress and a Libyan lobbying the new leadership in Tripoli.

But the Libyan government hasn't been their only obstacle. The disinterment and return of the remains also has been opposed by the U.S. Navy.

The service says the sailors were honored properly with a graveside ceremony in Tripoli in 1947 that was attended by representatives of the State and Defense departments.

"Navy custom and tradition has been to honor the final resting place of those lost in downed ships and aircraft," Adm. Gary Roughead wrote in 2008, when he was chief of naval operations. "The Navy considers the Tripoli cemetery to be the final resting place of these Sailors who sacrificed their lives for our Nation."

A spokesman for the Navy could not say Tuesday whether the policy has changed. The group working to bring the Intrepid crew home says the service is wary of setting a precedent.

"Their concern is that there are other sailors other places that people are going to want to go after," said Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House intelligence committee. "We keep rattling their cage, hoping that they'll shake themselves out of it."

Rogers was shown the dilapidated cemetery that holds five of the sailors while visiting Tripoli in 2004. The other eight are believed to have been buried in a mass grave near Green Square, where Gadhafi loyalists held anti-Western rallies earlier this year.

Rogers says the Intrepid is a special case.

"These are folks that died in combat, were not given proper burials," he said. "I've been there, I've seen the graves, I've seen the kinds of conditions. 'Buried' is too strong a word."

Legislation introduced by Rogers to 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" was approved by the House earlier this year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Backers, including the major veterans' groups, now are pushing the Senate for support.
"We've got this bill languishing in Congress to bring American heroes home," said Tim Tetz, legislative director for the American Legion. "Why aren't we engaging on that and getting this done? There's no underlying budget principle or deficit reduction issue. It's just the right, patriotic thing to do."

Immortalized in the first line of the Marines' Hymn — "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli" — the campaign against the Barbary pirates was the first U.S. war overseas. Maryland, a center of naval activity in the young nation, would play a central role.

Privateers from the North African ports of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli had preyed on Western shipping in the Mediterranean for decades. When President Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Navy in 1801, the United States became the latest in a succession of nations to take them on.

With money approved by Congress, Somers purchased a schooner that had been built on the Eastern Shore, sailed it to the navy yard in Baltimore to be strengthened for combat and on to the then-sleepy fishing port of Annapolis for rigging.

He recruited sailors and watermen along the way. According to Arnold historian Chipp Reid, these included Joseph Israel, born in or near Annapolis; William Keith and James Simms, who most likely enlisted in Annapolis; and James Harris and Thomas Tompline, who enlisted in Annapolis or Norfolk, Va.

Somers and his recruits joined a U.S. squadron off Tripoli.

Reid, who has written a book on the Intrepid to be published next year, describes the ill-starred mission.

In Tripoli, the American squadron captured a ketch that had been built by Napoleon for the invasion of Egypt.

It was this boat, common along the North African coast, that would be turned into an "infernal" — weighed down with black powder, shells and flammable materials to power a fiery explosion among the wooden pirate fleet anchored in Tripoli Harbor.

Somers, one of a cadre of young officers that also included Charles Stewart, Isaac Hull and Stephen Decatur, volunteered to lead the dangerous mission.

Among the sailors who stepped forward, Somers chose Henry Wadsworth, uncle of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as his lieutenant, and a crew of 10. Israel, a midshipman sent by the commander of the U.S. squadron to wish the crew success, begged Somers for a berth — completing the Intrepid 13.

The ketch set off at 8 p.m. on Sept. 4, 1804. Commanders believed it would take three hours for the Intrepid to reach the enemy fleet. At 9:47 p.m., the boat exploded — short of its goal.

The pirates were unharmed, but the North African states eventually would sign a peace treaty with the United States. Somers joined Stewart, Hull and Decatur in the pantheon of American naval heroes.

"They were household names," Reid said. "In the 19th century, boys didn't play army, they played navy. For 100 years, every kid in America grew up hearing about the friendship between Stephen Decatur and Richard Somers."

The Somers and Wadsworth families entreated the government to bring their remains home — James Fenimore Cooper wrote about the effort in 1844 — but no action was taken, and the cause faded.

Communications consultant Michael Caputo knew nothing of the Intrepid when he was hired in 2005 to help swing public opinion in Somers Point in favor of a redevelopment plan.

The seaside town near Ocean City, N.J., is home to an active historical society and celebrates Richard Somers Day each Sept. 4. When Caputo asked local leaders what might capture the voters' attention, they told him about Somers, the Intrepid, and the hope of bringing him back home.

Caputo, who had met Gadhafi's son Saif while working in Moscow for Yeltsin, helped to initiate discussions with the Gadhafi Family Foundation.

Washington and Tripoli were in the process of restoring diplomatic relations, and the Libyans initially were receptive. Archaeologists excavating the Green Square grave found uniform buttons and bones. The Libyan government allowed the U.S. Embassy to restore and maintain the cemetery that holds the other remains.

Then war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Gadhafi shut the Intrepid talks down, Caputo says.

The Libyan uprising this year revived hopes for the repatriation of the remains. NATO-backed rebels overran Tripoli in August, and Gadhafi was killed Oct. 20.
Caputo talks of a "window of opportunity."

"We believe that [the Libyans] are looking at a positive relationship with the United States," he said. "Our contacts with the transitional government show that to be absolutely true. They're eager to do something to show partnership with the United States."

The Libyan Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Dean Somers learned that he was related to Richard Somers about a dozen years ago, when his brother spotted their grandfather in a list of the officer's descendants. The New Jersey man went to Washington this year to lobby Congress to bring the crew home.

"It's long past due," Somers said. Richard Somers "should be buried in America with honors. I mean, he's a hero. All the men were on the Intrepid."