Saturday, December 3, 2011
Response to Navy Objections to repatriation
Larry Greer, a public relations officer with the POW/MP office in Washington DC said:
“In regards to Lt. Somers and the burial of his remains and others in Libya...In any event, the issue of whether or not Lt. Somers’ remains will be moved, now or in the future, is a Navy issue, and the Navy has told us last time around on this, the Navy has told us they are NOT in any way interested in moving his remains.”
“It’s not a POW/MP issue, because these men are not missing. But it is a navy operational issue, even though it dates back a few centuries ago. But whatever happens to the remains of those men is entirely in the hands of the Navy, and I think you already have some contacts there.”
BK Notes: The Navy acknowledges this is not a Missing Persons issue, they know where they are, they just don't want to bring them home.
In a letter to William Kelly, author of this blog, former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Roughead wrote: “...It has also been my honor to visit the graves when I lived in Libya as a young man...Honoring the final resting place of Sailors and Marines is a long standing naval tradition. Early in our Navy’s history, the remains of Sailors who passed away at-sea were either buried at sea or held for burial on the nearest island, coastline, or friendly port; with the location properly marked and recorded in their ship’s log."
BK: Yes, and as with John Paul Jones they have been repatriated if not properly buried in marked and cared for graves. In addition, since WWI, the families have been given the choice of leaving them where they were killed and buried, having them buried at a US maintained military cemetery abroad or having the remains returned for proper burial at home. The families of the officers of the Intrepid, the Somers and Wadsworth families, beginning with the sister of Somers and the sister of Wadsworth, have always requested their remains to be returned.
Adml. Roughead: "Unfortunately, there is no documentation regarding the remains recovered after the INTREPID exploded."
BK: There is extensive documentation, including the journals of Capt. Bainbridge, his first officer Lt. Porter, Dr. Cowdery, the surgeon who led the burial party, the chronicles of James F. Cooper, and the Libyan Arab reports by Mustapha Burchis and Abdu Hakim Amer Al-Tawil, whose book "Secrets of the Old Protestant Cemetery" thoroughly details the events at the cemetery site.
Roughead: "We do know these remains were buried by crew members of the USS PHILADELPHIA; and the remains recovered during the 1930 road construction in the vicinity of the original burial were reburied at Tripoli’s Protestant Cemetery in four or five grave sites. No information on the quantity, condition, or identity of the remains was recorded during the reburial of these remains. Headstones erected over the grave sites however contain inscriptions refereeing to “American Sailor Intrepid.” The fifth headstone was damaged and cannot be made out clearly but is believed to be part of the 1930 remains reburial.”
BK: More than half of the remains that were interred at the cemetery have been repatriated to their homes in other countries, only the unclaimed remains and those of the men of the Intrepid remain there. These remains should be investigated, checked, counted, and DNA samples taken to determine if they can be identified as the remains of Somers, Wadsworth or Israel, whose families would like their remains returned home for proper burial. The Navy POWMP office does this in regards to every other unidentified remains of US servicemen from WWI to today, and they should do it for these men too.
Roughead: “In honor of Commander Richard Somers, and his crew who volunteered to accompany him on the fatal mission of the INTREPID, officials of the United States Navy, State Department, and Libyan government held formal memorial ceremonies on April 2, 1949 at Tripoli’s Protestant Cemetery.”
BK: Yes, this ceremony honored the five men reburied at the cemetery by the Italians, but certainly does not honor the remains of the men that are still buried in the mass, unmarked grave outside the walls of the old castle fort, under what is now a parking lot at Martyrs Square, where the Libyans hold their holiday gatherings and where Gadhafi held his rallies. Those remains should be returned home for a proper burial, and the Navy is using the ceremony at the cemetery site as an excuse to leave all of these men in this disgraceful situation.
Roughead: “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. My staff is working with the Department of State and the American Embassy in Libya to ascertain the condition of the graves and what actions can be taken towards their long term care.”
BK: But the Navy cannot assume responsibility for the maintenance of the whole cemetery, and the American Battle Monuments Commission, responsible for the upkeep of American military cemeteries abroad, refuses to take responsibility for the cemetery graves, and the Navy cannot ensure their long term care. An attempt should be made to properly identify the remains at the cemetery and bring them home if they can be shown to be the remains of the men of the Intrepid. And this determination makes no mention of the eight men left at the original unmarked grave under the parking lot at Martyrs Square - is that to be their final resting place too?
When it comes to repatriation of these men from Tripoli, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Renee Richardson of the Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office says to get in back of the line or as she puts it, “do you anticipate that these remains should jump to the front of the line?”
In her talks to the public she explains the role of the POW/MP Office in locating and repatriating remains and notes that there are more than 80,000 American soldiers still missing in action, most from World War II, but also 8,000 from Korean and over 1600 from Vietnam and 127 from the Cold War.
Some would think the oldest case on record should be first, but she claims the more recent cases should take priority because there are living relatives who remember them, while the family descendents are many generations separated and didn’t really know them personally, so their feelings must carry less weight. Or as Richardson says, “And by the way, the MIA that are currently being looked for (WWII to Date) still have family members who were ALIVE when their loved one went missing.”
As for the graves at the Old Protestant Cemetery that are marked as being those of the men of the Intrepid, Richardson claims “the bodies were not buried in ‘a nearby cemetery.’ Rather, after being exposed to dogs, the elements and the ire of Tripoli’s residents, Bashaw Yusuf Karamanli allowed the bodies to be buried in a communal grave area by some enlisted men from PHILADELPHIA along with the Ship’s Surgeon, Dr. Cowley [sic]; all of whom were the Bahaw’s hostages.” (Since Richardson pointed out my typo misspelling of the INTREPID, as a third generation naval officer she should know that Dr. Jonathan Cowdery was the Surgeon of the USA, and how to spell his name.)
After I pointed out to her that the five cemetery crypts were probably of those men of the INTREPID removed from their original grave site by the Italians and reburied at the cemetery, she wrote, “The remains uncovered during construction by the Italian road crew in the 1930’s were not readily or properly identified as being Americans or from INTREPID. There is no evidence (except the political expediency of post WWII Relations) to suggest that the remains were not merely those of other unfortunate wretches who died in Tripoli.”
Although it was known at the time where the Americans were buried when the Italians excavated their graves and relocated them, she suggests that these were graves of some “unfortunate wretches who died in Tripoli,” and were historically and intentionally mis-marked as being those of the men of the INTREPID because of post World War II relations made it politically expedient to do so.
“The only anecdotally evidence we have,” Richardson wrote, “is from 1949, when it was in the best interest of the government of Tripoli to cement relations with the U.S., and suddenly those five unmarked graves are alleged to contain the remains of American sailors from INTREPID.”
Richardson’s conspiracy theory, which certainly goes a long way to explain the Navy’s continuing cover-up and refusal to repatriate these remains, contends that the five graves at Old Protestant Cemetery were historically marked as those of the men of the Intrepid only to facilitate closer political relations between the governments of the United States and Libya, just as they are being used for today.
“Thus on April 2, 1949,” she writes, “during a ship visit by U.S.S. SPOKANE, a memorial service was performed, a plaque erected and the graves marked as being those of sailors from INTREPID. The ceremony was attended by the Commanding Officer of SPOKANE, Captain William Marshall; Rear Admiral Cruzen, Commander Cruiser Division Two; Mr. Orray Taft, U.S. Consul at Tripoli, and Prince Taher Bey Karamanli of Libya.”
Richardson neglects to mention that Prince Taher Bey Karamanli was a direct descendent and namesake of the pirate Prince of Tripoli who was the first to declare war against the United States by chopping down the flagpole in front of the residence of the American counsel after the tribute he demanded was not paid. One hundred and fifty years later the same family dynasty was still in power in Tripoli.
Richardson concludes, “But at the end of the day there is no definitive evidence that suggests that the five graves contain any remains of Americans, let alone remains from the dead of INTREPID.”
NOTES: CBS Richardson remarks at Walnut Creek Memorial Day, May 30, 2011. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/05/30/walnut-creek-memorial-day-ceremony-for-missing-soldiers/ Emails Sept. 7, 2008
At the time I responded to this note I did not know Renee Richardson was an officer with the
DOD POWMP Command and responsible for the repatriation of Americans from abroad. -BK]
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Questions on Repatriation of Intrepid Crew
Renee Richardson writes,
I recently came upon your site concerning the "Intrepid". Having just finished "Six Frigates", "Jefferson’s War" and "The Pirate Coast" I was looking about on the internet for additional information, what a very interesting bit of history.
I am curious about the repatriation however, as the responsibility for repatriation prior to WW II usually seems to fall to the Service, unless the individual(s) have already been interred—in which case the Service will decline the request (as the mariners have been interred, it is likely the Navy should and will say "no.”
Additionally the Navy/Libyans had a dedication ceremony in 1949 indicating the Service considers Tripoli to be the final resting place of these brave souls). Or the cost of repatriation falls to the individual family(ies) of the deceased.
RR: 1) That being the case who would bear the cost of this repatriation?
Bill Kelly: It has never been a question of cost or responsibility. The United States Navy, specifically the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of POW/MP is responsible for the repatriation. [http://www.defenselink.mil/odam/omp/pubs/GuideBook/DPOW.htm]
It is necessary to understand that here are two burial sites, the original, unmarked, September 5, 1804 burial site just off the beach and below the walls of the old castle fort, and the remains of five reinterred in the 1930s at the Old Protestant Cemetery, neither of which were ever meant to be permanent resting places. The Navy/Libyan ceremony certainly does not indicate that the Navy Service "considers Tripoli to be the final resting place of these brave souls." It has always been the intention of the Somers family and the policy of the U.S. Navy to repatriate the remains.
R.R.: 2) Assuming the US Government/Service might choose to absorb the cost, why should these remains (which are properly buried) receive a priority of exhumation/transportation over the 80,000 plus remains around the world awaiting excavation, and identification from WW II, Korea, the Cold War and the Southeast Asia conflict?
BK: There are over 80,000 missing in action from WWII and the Korean War. The men of the USS Intrepid are not missing, as we know exactly where they are. They've just been listed as MIA and the POW/MP office has acknowledged that the crew of the Intrepid is the oldest, active, repatriation case on file.
RR: The families of the "Intrepid" crew know exactly what happened, they blew up, and they were buried. We even know where some/most/all are buried "Tripoli" in the Protestant Cemetery, along with several Italians and Dutch. That is not the case with so many of the lost from WW II, Korea and Southeast Asia, while the team at Dover is no doubt very good as you put it, they are a limited and costly resource that is engaged in the work to identify and repatriate those who had no real resting place, no grave, no identity even of the remains—and living immediate or at the least first and second generation family members awaiting disposition.
BK: It is true that the DOD in general, and the Navy and USMC in particular do not want to take on the mission of repatriation of these men, especially when there's two wars going on two fronts and all the services are very busy. But the political situation and the military interests are shifting and it will soon be in everyone's favor to locate and secure the original grave site and properly repatriate the remains of these men.
RR: 3) Do all 13 families desire the disinterment of the commingled graves?
BK: I don't know but that's a good question and you can help try to identify some of their relatives so we can obtain DNA samples from their families as is being done with Somers and Wadsworth, in order to positively identify their remains from the others. According to the most recent report (DIA newsletter), the Marines don't consider any of them leathernecks, though you would think they would check hard to see if even one of the ten volunteers was a marine. I don't think they even bothered to look.
In any case, besides the officers Somers and Wadsworth, both from famous and influential families, there's the young Midshipman, Joseph Israel, who was sent out to take a message to Somers and enlisted himself in the mission as the unlucky thirtieth man. Then from the USS Nautilus was "Bos'n" James Simms, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the deck, and three other men from the Nautilus, Thomas Tompline, James Harris and William Keith. From the USS Constitution were William Harrison, Robert Clark, Hugh McCormick, Peter Penner, Issac Downes and Jacob Williams.
RR: 4) If not, is the encouragement of that disinterment not potentially repugnant to present-day descendants of the deceased and should their wishes not also be respected? As a mother, I for one would not desire that my loved ones remains be disturbed or removed from the final resting place. As a tax-payer, I can think of better uses for those funds as well.
BK: Well, you can call up any Somers in the Somers Point, New Jersey phonebook and ask them if they think it "repugnant to disturb or remove them from their final resting place" and I can assure you that they will tell you that their native son Richard Somers died fighting the Tripoli pirates and he's been buried behind enemy lines and they want him home. They even have a grave site waiting for him. As tax payers and families of causalities in combat, they can think of no better use of military funds than to repatriate the remains of their families and all Americans. "No one left behind" is as much a policy as "millions for defense but not one cent for tribute."
RR: 5) The graves have no names, they merely annotate that these are sailors lost in the explosion of the "Intrepid", thus we know not who is in what grave and the potential cost to discover that is prohibitive and of a much lesser priority than the identification of more recent losses.
BK:The five reinterred remains in the Old Protestant Cemetery were discovered and placed there by an occupying Italian army. The five are most likely seamen, as the three officers were burried nearby in a separate grave. The remains of the officers can be identified by DNA. The cost to retrieve and repatriate the remains of US servicemen is estimated by the POW/MP office at around $35,000 to $50,000, depending on how difficult it is, primarily geographically. To a government Department that receives and spends hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars routinely, that is not a prohibitive cost. Can you imagine if the families of those killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan were asked to pay for the return of the remains of their son?
RR: 6)Although these are indeed brave men who died engaged in the war to thwart the Bashaw and the Barbary Pirates—an enormously significant and formative action in our nation’s history, what exact purpose is served in digging up, and dragging home the mixed and unspecified bones of these worthy seamen?
BK: Besides honoring our national policy of retrieving the remains of those killed in action, there are many positive purposes served in "digging up and dragging home the mixed and unspecified bones," most important being the education of students, active servicemen and women and curious taxpayers. The DOD POW/MP officers are very professional at what they do, and archeologically and forensically excavate the graves in order to learn as much possible.
While the cemetery grave site is secure today, the original grave site was disturbed in 2004 by the Libyans, who discovered "bones and buttons," that may now be sitting in shoe boxes on a shelf in the old castle fort museum. The original grave site must be identified and secured and the remains there properly removed and repatriated home, in exactly the way the remains of servicemen today are returned from any other battlefield.
R.R.: On a different note I have your well done book "300 Years at the Point" did not realize you were the same person (blog and book) until I was reading along on your site. Wonderfully enjoyable work.
BK: Why thank you Renee. If you read the chapter on Richard Somers you'll understand it all much better.
Renee's next email was not so polite, but at least I knew where she worked - at the POW MP office responsible for the repatriation of Americans killed in combat overseas.
From: William Kelly
To: Renee Richardson
Re: Email to Mayor and Committee to Repatriate Richard Somers
Dear RR, Since I am mentioned so prominentaly in your note to the Committee, I have to respond to your accusations and comments about my work.
From: "Renee Richardson"
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 1:39:37 PM
Subject: Cost of HR 1479
Dear Mr. Gregory, Ms. Hastings and Mayor Glasser,
I watched with wonder as HR 1497 was approved. I am sure that all of you are very pleased. The information that abounds on the various websites dedicated to the mission of repatriation for the crew of INTREPID (lost 4 September 1804) is mostly right, but not completely. On your own site you should ask Mr. Kelly to properly annotate the chronology for the events below (taken from your site and presumably taken from his blog or his book):
BK: There is nothing wrong or incorrect in my chronology or it will be corrected; nor is it improperly annotated for the events you mention are in the proper order, and while months apart, things moved much slower then, and the difference in time between the events does not take away from their association.
"After decisively defeating the enemy in a number of skirmishes, Decatur sailed the Intripid [sic] into the harbor disguised as an Arab trader. He recaptured and sank the Philadelphia without firing a shot and without any casualties. Then Somers, with a dozen volunteers, reentered the harbor, having filled the Intripid [sic] with combustibles. Unfortunately, during the daring nighttime raid the Intrepid prematurely exploded in the harbor. The bodies of Somers and his crew washed ashore the following day and were buried in a nearby cemetery by prisoners from the Philadelphia. An unkempt memorial marks their graves."
First this chronology suggests that the action taken by Decatur and that of Somers was within a similar time period. Decatur burned the frigate U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA in February of 1804, Somers failed fire-ship mission took place on September 4, 1804.
BK: First, as the chronology suggests, both of these events took place during the time that Capt. Preble was command of the fleet, and they are connected in that they both took place using the same ship – the Intrepid, and were commanded by men who had grown up, attended school and enlisted in the Navy together. The paragraph stands corrected for typos.
Second the bodies were not buried in "a nearby cemetery." Rather after being exposed to dogs, the elements and the ire of Tripoli's residents, Bashaw Yusuf Karamanli allowed the bodies to be buried in a communal grave area by some enlisted from PHILADELPHIA along with the Ship's Surgeon, Dr. Cowley [Sic Since RR points out my typo misspelling of Inrepid, I will point out that as a third generation Navy officer she should know that Dr. Jonathan Cowdery was Surgeon of the US and how to spell his name. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=79985731]; all of whom were the Bashaw's hostages.
BK: Absolutly correct, as they were buried in an unmarked mass grave outside the walls of the old castle fort in what is now a parking lot at Martyrs Square, which you think is a fitting place and where they should remain.
Nowhere on the miscellaneous sites dedicated to this cause does anyone annotate the fact that in the 1790s and the 1800s the captive European slave population in Tripoli of people taken from pirated ships, was at a minimum (the ones whose names were officially recorded) 600 people. Most of them (unlike the surviving crewmembers from PHILADELPHIA), where never ransomed or returned to their native lands, rather they were worked to death and buried in the same communally designated area as the sailors from INTREPID.
BK: Not true, the slaves were buried in a cemetery site reserved for them, while the crew of the INTREPID were buried by themselves in two mass graves near each other, 720 feet from the walls of the castle fort.
Additionally the remains uncovered during construction by the Italian road crew in the 1930's were not readily or properly identified as being Americans or from INTREPID. There is no evidence (except the political expediency of post WWII Relations) to suggest that the remains were not merely those of other unfortunate wretches who died in Tripoli.
BK: A letter from an Italian army sergeant who worked on the road crew notes the remains were identified as those from the INTREPID, and reburied at the cemetery. And whether they are or are not the INTREPID remains can easily be determined by opening the crypts, counting the remains, taking DNA samples that can be compared to the relations of Somers and Wadsworth, and search for any other forensic evidence (ie buttons), just as the POWMP office does in any other case to determine the identity of the missing.
The only anecdotally evidence we have is from 1949, when it was in the best interest of the government of Tripoli to cement relations with the U.S., and suddenly those five unmarked graves are alleged to contain the remains of American sailors from INTREPID.
BK: The research for the Navy’s determination that the five graves at the cemetery are those of the men of the INTREPID came from Mustapha Burchis, at the request of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, and did not include the information regarding the Italian road work crew, but relied on the reports of the Jewish community and those elders who related what they knew.
Thus on April 2, 1949 during a ship visit by U.S.S. SPOKANE a memorial service was performed, a plaque erected and the graves marked as being those of sailors from INTREPID. The ceremony was attended by the Commanding Officer of SPOKANE, Captain William Marshall; Rear Admiral Cruzen, Commander Cruiser Division Two; Mr. Orray Taff, U.S. Consul at Tripoli, and Prince Taher Bey Karamanli of Libya. But at the end of the day there is no definitive evidence that suggests that the five graves contain any remains of Americans, let alone remains from the dead of INTREPID.
BK: Well that can certainly be resolved by opening the crypts, counting the remains, taking DNA samples from them and searching for buttons or any other forensic evidence that could lead to the identify of the remains and determine who they are. Why is the Navy afraid to do what they routinely do with all of the other remains discovered?
But let us for the moment set all that aside and leap into the presumption that in fact the graves contain at least some of five of INTREPID's thirteen dead. And let us imagine that HR 1497 passes and DoD (because the Navy has regularly and wisely said "nay" to exhumation) is forced to repatriate the remains in those five graves--and no doubt sundry other remains outside Tripoli's original walls just for good measure--do you anticipate that these remains should jump to the front of the line?
BK: You refer to the remains of the US Naval heroes buried in an unmarked grave under a parking lot at Martyrs Square as “sundry”? I had to look that one up – and it means “not important enough to be mentioned individually,” an insulting term to use when referring to the officers and men who set the style and traditions of the US Navy that are maintained and upheld today. And they shouldn’t have to “jump to the front of the line,” as they should have been taken care of as soon as the treaty was signed, and returned home or given a proper burial by Bainbridge, or as David Porter expected, reburied at the Tripoli monument, or as J.F. Cooper suggested fifty years later, by any officer who put into port there, or as Teddy Roosevelt did with John Paul Jones at the turn of the last century, or as Franklin Roosevelt inquired about in the 1930s, or as they wanted to do in the 1980s. Not jump in the front of the line, but respected as the first to die the first to be repatriated home.
Perhaps you did not realize there is a line and that the DoD organizations responsible for recovery and accounting of the Missing-in-Action already have a massive load to deal with.
BK: Yes, and I read the POWMP web site just like you read mine, and I think it is great and admirable duty that they perform, and if they are undermanned, underfinanced and under appreciated, then they should support the repatriation of the remains of these men, a newsworthy effort that will call attention to the service being performed and ensure that the budget is increased if need be, rather than decreased as it was this year by $2 million.
The dead of INTREPID, just for clarification are not MIA, they are buried and accounted for.
BK: Yes, I realize that if I know where they are buried, in an unmarked mass grave under a parking lot in Martyrs Square and a cemetery that’s falling apart and into the bay, then the Navy must know where they are too, and just don’t want to bring them home.
And by the way the MIA that are currently being looked for (WWII to Date) still have family members who were ALIVE when their loved one went missing.
BK: Well the living relatives of these men did want their remains returned at the time, as Somers’ sister had a monument built in Somers Point so people would remember him and where he was located, and wanted that to someday be his grave marker, and Wadsworth sister named her
I did not see any additional funding or resources attached to HR 1497, which means the Bill, if passed, selfishly takes limited resources from modern losses. For WWII there over 73,000 missing in action, for Korea there are nearly 8000, Southeast Asia still has about 1,700 missing and there are some 125 from the cold war.
BK: And it is shameful that so many Americans are missing in action, especially when the Australians recently repatriated the last remaining missing airmen from Vietnam. You should use the repatriation of the INTREPID crew to call attention to your mission and obtain the funding necessary to complete your task.
Not only is the endeavor of this bill selfish in the theft of resources (because it is political and noisy)
BK: it isn’t selfish, as the resources are available to do what should be done, identify the remains of these men and bring them home, and its only political and noisy because the Navy has made it so by refusing to do it.
from extant missions for families who still remember the missing (not as a historic footnote of family lore--but remembered fathers and husbands and brothers and sons )
BK: Richard Somers’ sister had a monument built so people would remember him and where he is buried, Wadsworth sister named her son after her brother Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and David Porter’s Tripoli monument was meant to be a grave marker for when the remains of these men were returned, so those who knew them when they were alive wanted them repatriated.
but it is potentially also a precedent setting bill that opens liability and government obligation for repatriation from 1804 forward: the First and Second Seminole Wars, the War of 1812, The Mexican-American War, The Civil War, The Spanish-American War, including losses in Cuba and the Philippines, The Philippine-American War, The Boxer Rebellion, the Great War (WWI) and the Banana Wars.
BK: Chris Dickon, author of the Foreign Burial of American War Dead, says that these were the first identified men killed in combat and buried abroad, and there are no other similar cases or examples of any families seeking the return of their kin, so the fear that you will be overwhelmed is totally unfounded.
I do not dispute the desire of the descendants (217 years removed) to return their beloved. I dispute that our government (except in assisting permissions and access) is in anyway responsible, or obligated to repatriate these 13 sailors from a failed mission,
BK: “Failed mission”? Do you consider whether the men who perish in a helicopter in Vietnam were on a “failed mission”? These men went to Tripoli as members of the US Navy, the same Navy you work for, and the Navy is responsible for their return.
who are accounted for and buried, not missing. If ten years ago, when Mr. Kelly first started his agitation for their return,
BK: If I am an “agitator’ rather than a journalist and historian, then you must be a cog in the bureaucratic administrative machine that has led to the failure of the US Navy to repatriate the remains of these men.
all of you had formed a 501 C 3 Not-for Profit, not only would you have already raised enough money to have brought them back, and paid for the DNA testing and Family Reference Samples and genealogy to find all the living relatives, but there would likely have been enough left over to be providing Master Commander Somers' scholarships to all the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandsons-daughters-neices-nephews.
BK: We are prepared to repatriate the remains of these men privately if the Navy refuses to do it and Congress and the President refuse to order them to, but if we must, it will be to the shame of the Navy, the US government and the nation they died for.
BUT, more importantly you would not now be detracting from the real POW/MIA mission.
BK: Most importantly, the repatriation of these men will not detract from the real POWMP mission, as they died fighting for the same reasons and principles that our servicemen die for today – fighting pirates, terrorists and tyranny, and for freedom, justice and democracy.
As a commissioned Navy officer from a Navy family (Grandfather, father, husband, father-in-law and son) I find it repugnant that this measure should take away from the current MIA/POW recovery missions, whether all of you intended it or not, that will be the consequence.
BK: As the son of a Army Air Force combat veteran and nephew of a sailor who died in combat during WWII and was buried at sea, I find it repugnant that rather than do your job, you would leave American naval heroes buried in an unmarked mass grave under the Martyrs Square parking lot square where Arabs dance and hold their anti-American political rallies and the only martyrs buried there are American naval heroes the Navy would rather forget.
Respectfully in disagreement over this measure,
POWMP Command of the DOD