Thursday, January 31, 2013

Key Date Chronology Updated 2013

                         The Front Gate to Old Protestant Cemetery, Tripoli, Libya - September 2013

Key Date Chronology

1778 September – Richard Somers born in Somers Point, NJ.
1778 October 15 - Battle of Chestnut Neck included Col. Richard Somers, father of Master Commandant Richard Somers.
1783 March. Algierian Barbary coast pirates seize two American merchant ships.
1784 October 11 Morocco pirate corsair seize American brig Betsey.
1785 June Henry Wadsworth born in Falmouth, Mass., now Portland, Maine, next door neighbor to Captain Edward Preble.
1785 Feb Algerian pirates seize two U.S. vessels, demand tribute; Pres. Jefferson deploys gunboats to the Mediterranean. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.”
1785 US opens diplomatic relations with Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.
1789 April 30 George Washington sworn in as President.
1793 December 16 President Washington notifies Congress that Barbary pirates were again seizing ships, consults with John Barry and Philadelphia shipbuilder Joshua Humphreys about building a fleet of warships.
1793 15 year old Richard Somers, first mate on family schooner in West Indies, takes command upon the death of the captain and returns ship safely home.
1794 Navy Act of 1794.
1794 March 19 John Barry requests command of the proposed fleet.
1794 March 27 an act of Congress orders building six new frigates.
1794 June 14 Washington orders John Barry “to form and train a class of midshipmen who would then be commissioned as Ensigns, and form the nucleus of a new American navy.” Barry commissioned first Captain, United States Navy.
1794 Richard Somers attends private Philadelphia Free Academy with schoolmates Charles Stewart, Steven Decatur, Jr., Richard Rush, and James Caldwell.
1794 September Captain John Barry supervises the construction of USS United States.
1794 October 22 Richard Somers, Sr. dies.
1795 December 21 US treaty with Morocco, Algiers “automatically under the clause in the Navy bill,” halts work on the six frigates.
1796 Jan. Sec of War McHenry reports that all six frigates could still be completed.
1796 April Congress approves the completion of three ships at Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore, the United States, the Constitution and the Constellation.
1796 September 19 Estimate for outfitting the frigate United States with 305 officers and men, fifty-four marines, for one month $7, 285.
1796 Gheretti/Mastico, a French built Ketch launched (later to become USS Intrepid).
1797 February 3 Richard’s mother Sophia dies.
1797 February 22 Washington, on his birthday, issues Commission No. 1 in the American Navy to John Barry, backdated to 1794. .
1797 March 4 John Adams becomes president.
1797 June 7 Treaty of Tripoli Approved by Senate.
1797 June 10 Treaty of Tripoli Signed by President Adams
1797 June 17 Notice of Treaty of Tripoli published in Pennsylvania Gazette.
1797 June 23 President Adams message to Congress re: Algiers/Barbary States.
1797 July 10 the USS United States is launched, John Barry Captain.
1797 350 applications for 59 commissions in new U.S. Navy.
1798 January 26 US counsel Richard O’Brian arrives in Algiers.
1798 March 9 Charles Stewart commissioned Lieutenant.
1798 April 30 Congress establishes Department of Navy, directed by secretary of cabinet rank, Maryland merchant Benjamin Stoddert.
1798 April 30 Midshipman warrants issued to Richard Somers and Steven Decatur.
1798 May 7 President John Adams appears in Philadelphia at rally.
1798 May 8 Richard Somers takes oath of allegiance.
1798 May James R. Caldwell appointed Midshipman.
1798 May 30 Richard Somers returns to Egg Harbor to get his affairs in order.
1798 June 8 Sloop Delaware (20 guns) under Commodore Stephen Decatur, Sr., takes a French prize, Le Croyable off Egg Harbor.
1798 July 7 USS Untied States gets underway under Capt. John Barry with Decatur, Jr., Charles Stewart and Somers as Midshipmen, head for the West Indies.
1798 Nov 4 Congress agreed to pay a yearly tribute to Tripoli.
1799 January 20 Richard Somers commissioned Lieutenant.
1799 June 2 Richard Somers writes will.
1799 June 22 Richard’s brother Constant dies in Russia in boating accident.
1799 Schooner Nautilus built as merchant vessel on Maryland’s East Shore.
1800 Nov. James Caldwell promoted to lieutenant, serves on USS United States.
1801 Somers appointed first lieutenant Boston (28 gun) 250 man sloop sent to the Mediterranean.
1801 James Caldwell assigned to the USS Constellation.
1801 Treaty of Tripoli violated by Yousuf Karamanli, pasha of Tripoli.
1801 January 21 Boston off Tripoli. Somers gets first view of Tripoli Harbor.
1801 May 14, After learning that Pres. Jefferson refused to pay a renewed tribute of $225,000 the Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the US by cutting down the US flagstaff in front of the US Consulate.
1801 May 22 Captain Richard Dale takes command of Med. Squadron.
1801 June – US Consul William Eaton contacts Hamad Karamanli, deposed pasha of Tripoli, and older brother of Yousuf and encourages him to return to Tripoli.
1801 July USS Enterprise under Lt. Andrew Sterrett defeats pirate ship Tripoli.
1802 Congress orders the construction of four schooners, the Siren, the Argus, Nautilus and Vixen with Somers given command of the Nautilus.
1802 February 6 Congress recognizes Tripoli has declared war against USA.
1803 April 11 Richard Somers launches schooner Goard Blossom at Mays Landing.
1803 May 13 Richard Somers ordered to oversee the refurbishing of schooner Nautilus.
1803 May 21 Captain Edward Preble given command of the Mediterranean squadron, with flagship frigate USS Constitution (44 guns).
1803 June 24 Somers’s schooner Nautilus ordered to join the Mediterranean squadron under command of Captain Edward Preble.
1803 September 13 Commodore John Barry dies.
1803 September 14 Somers and Nautilus reach Gibraltar.
1803 Preble obtains understanding in Tangier from the emperor of Morocco.
1803 Oct 31 frigate USS Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge in command, runs aground off Tripoli, surrenders with full compliment of crew, 300 men.
1803 Nov 7 the Argus, with Stephen Decatur, joins Nautilus and Constitution.
1803 Dec 23, Lt. Stephen Decatur, commanding the schooner Enterprise, captures a Barbary pirate ketch, which is entered into the US Navy logs as the USS Intrepid.
1804 February 16 Decatur leads mission aboard Intrepid into Tripoli Harbor and successfully scuttles the captured frigate USS Philadelphia.
1804 June 2 USS Constitution, Enterprise, and Intrepid, a floating hospital, anchor off Syracuse. Siren, Agrus, Vixen and Scourage (also a pirate prize) blockade Tripoli.
1804 July Mediterranean squadron heads for Tripoli, lead by Preble’s flagship, the Constitution, four brigs, the Argus, Siran, Vixen and Scourge, two schooners, Nautilus (Somers) and Enterprise (Decatur) and eight gunboats (156 guns in all).
1804 July 25 Battle of Tripoli begins.
1804 August 3 Somers and Decatur lead flotillas of gunboats against Tripoli fleet, win decisively, though Decatur’s younger brother James Decatur is killed; Caldwell distinguishes himself in boat action; three enemy gunboats captured.
1804 August 7 Attack made against Tripoli fleet; Caldwell killed in Gunboat #9.
1804 Sept 3 Attack made against Tripoli fleet.
1804 Sept 4 Intrepid explodes in Tripoli harbor killing Somers, Wadsworth and ten volunteer sailors, whose remains wash ashore and are recovered.
1804 Sept 5 Intrepid crew buried in two nearby graves, by Dr. Cowdery and other American prisoners, “one cable’s length” (720 feet) from the walls of the old castle fort.
1805 Lt. David Porter takes up collection for Tripoli Monument, which includes the names of all the officers killed in the first Barbary War.
1807 Feb Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is born and named after Lt. Henry Wadsworth
1812 British take Washington. The Tripoli monument is damaged, repaired and relocated to the grounds of the US Capitol.
1830 Wife of British Counsel to Tripoli dies and is buried near existing graves, believed to be American sailors, and a wall is built around the cemetery.
1842 Alleged mutiny aboard USS Somers II, a training vessel, results in hanging of Midshipmen, and the end of training officers at sea.
1845 US Naval Academy established by Navy Secretary George Bancroft and the Tripoli Monument is relocated there.
1850 James F. Cooper writes biography of Richard Somers and suggests that someday the captain of an American cruiser should return with his remains so that he can be reburied in his native land among his friends and loved ones.
1905 President Theodore Roosevelt orders the repatriation of the remains of Captain John Paul Jones from a Paris crypt and reburied in the chapel at the Naval Academy.
1911 Italians begin occupation of Libya. Take over port and create the Plaza/Square.
1930 Italian Army road work crew uncovers the remains of five men from the original grave site and they are reburied at Old Protestant Cemetery.
1938 President Franklin Roosevelt orders a search for the location of the graves of the men of the Intrepid in Tripoli. Mustafa Burchis, a Libyan working for the Italians at the port of Tripoli investigates and learns some of the men of the Intrepid are buried at Old Protestant Cemetery.
1940 World War II. Burgis’ report is lost at the American Embassy in Rome.
1948–49 Muastafa Burchis informs the new US Consul Orray Taft, Jr. of his research and the members of the State Dept, US Navy, British embassy and local Libyans hold memorial ceremony and place historic markers at the Old Protestant Cemetery in 1949.
1950-1956 Two reports are published in the US Naval Proceedings journal.
1955 USMC study determines that no Marines are among the Intrepid victims.
1950-1969 The Officer Wife’s Club of Wheelus Air Force base maintain the cemetery.
1977 Two women from New Jersey discover the displaced graves at the cemetery, overgrown with weeds, and write about it in American Legion Magazine.
1980 Rep. William Hughes (D. 2NJ) introduces legislation in Congress to reserve graves for the 13 men of the Intrepid at Arlington in anticipation of their repatriation.
1988 Pres. Ronald Reagan orders the US military to bomb Tripoli in retaliation for terrorist attacks. Two US Navy pilots are shot down, and the remains of one recovered.
1991 Chris Stevens posted to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with US State Dept.
2002 Members of the Somers family and Somers Point, N.J. civic leaders petition US government and the Gadhafi Charities Foundation for repatriation. US State Dept. says there is no diplomatic relations with Libya.
2004 Gadhafi renounces terrorism, gives up Weapons of Mass Destruction and the US reestablishes formal diplomatic relations with Libya.
2004 Libyans excavate the original grave site and discover “bones and buttons.”
2004 US Dept. of State opens liaison office in Tripoli.
2004 Libyan guards tell US regional security officer Dan Mehan about American graves at cemetery, overgrown with weeds and in disrepair.
2006 March LTC Robert “Kyle” Carnahan arrives in Tripoli as defense attaché and meets with Dr. Giuma Anag, director of Antiquities.
2006 May Memorial Day ceremonies held at cemetery graves.
2007 Chris Stevens begins serving as Deputy Chief of US Mission to Libya at Tripoli (2 years)
2007 May Memorial Day ceremonies held at cemetery graves.
2008 “Secrets of the Old Protestant Cemetery” book is published in Arabic in Libya.
2009 Gadhaif celebrates the 40th anniversary of coup with a parade at Green Square.
2009 Sept 5 Sec of State Condi Rice visits Gadhafi on the 105th anniversary of the burial of the men of the Intrepid.
2010 March Chief of Naval Operations Adml. Gary Roughead determines that the Old Protestant Cemetery is to be the final resting place for those men of the USS Intrepid, but does not mention the original unmarked mass grave site outside the old castle walls.
2011- February 17 Revolution in Libya begins, which Gadhafi violent suppresses.
2011 March UN & NATO prevents Gadhafi’s military from attacking Benghazi.
2011 April 5 Chris Stevens arrives in Benghazi as US Representative to the rebels
2011 April 15 Delegation from Somers Point meets with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R. NJ), Mike Rogers (R. Mich) and the American Legion in Washington DC.
2011 April Rep. Rogers introduces House Resolution 1497 to repatriate the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli, co-sponsored by LoBiondo.
2011 May 26 Rep. Rogers attaches the Rogers/LoBiondo repatriation resolution to the 2012 Defense Authorization Act (DAA) as an amendment, which passes the House.
2011 August Green Square is liberated and renamed Martyrs Square.
2011 Nov. Sen. Dean Heller (R. Nev.) introduces complimentary Senate bill.
2011 Dec. Sen. John McCain (R. Arizona), ranking Republican on the Sen. Armed Services Com. (SASC) removes Repatriation Amendment before DAA is approved.
2011 Dec. 6 SASC and HASC Conference irons out differences in the DAA and ten US Senators sign letter requesting the Repatriation Amendment be reinserted in the DAA. 2011 Dec. 17 Sec. Defense Leon Panetta visits Tripoli and Intrepid graves at Old Protestant Cemetery.
2011 Dec. 31 President Signs Defense Authorization Act that includes a provision requiring the Navy to evaluate the feasibility of repatriating the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli and report back with recommendations in September 2012. 
2012 Christopher Stevens quietly appointed US Ambassador to Libya. Media excluded from ceremony.
2012 Feb. 4 Intrepid Project meets at Somers Point Historical Society to consider options. 
2012 May Chris Stevens appointed US Ambassador to Libya.
2012 May US Ambassador Chris Stevens leads Embassy delegation for Memorial Day ceremony at Intrepid graves at Old Protestant Cemetery.
2012 September Film farce "Innocence of Muslims" incites anti-American protests in Arab countries. 
2012 September 11 US Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans killed in attack on US mission at Benghazi.
2012 September 12 US intelligence agencies determine that attack coordinated by al Qaeda linked militia
2012 September 12 40,000 Libyans protest the attack against Americans and storm militia HQ.

                              President Obama meets the remains of US Ambassador Chris Stevens

2012 September 18 UN Ambassador says Benghazi attack spontaneous  response to film. 
2012 October Navy/DOD Report on Intrepid remains recommends they not be repatriated, but does not mention the radical Islamic threat to graves.
2012 October Tripoli Project issues rebuttal and reportedly meets with Armed Services Committee in DC
2012 November Benghazi becomes an election issue during debates. 
2013 January Secretary of State Hilary Clinton testifies before Congress about Benghazi.
2013 January Former Sen. John Kerry nominated for Secretary of State
2012 January Islamic Militants, some from Libya, of the same stripe as those who killed Stevens, retreat fromTimbucktu after imposing Islamic law for six months, but not before destroying most of the historic, centuries old manuscripts, books, mausoleums and graves of Sufi Saints and holy men. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Latest Photo of Old Protestant Cemetery, Tripoli

                                     Connecting Rays between Tripoli and Somers Point

Latest photo of the Old Protestant Cemetery, Tripoli

My friend Nuri, who sent the photo, notes: ‘It is looking west at sunset.  The frame captures three things at once.  1- The wall of the cemetery, final resting place of some of your men, on the left hand of the frame , 2- the place were the Intrepid blew up which is on the right side of the frame ( in the far back of the water you see just in front of the bow of the ship at port.  3 - The setting sun which at that time was early morning in their hometowns in the USA almost connecting them through its rays.”

He also says: “I would like to give you my belated condolences on the loss of Ambassador Chris J. Stevens.  He was a much liked and respected by most Libyans.  What happened to him in Benghazi was tragic and shameful.  40,000 people marched in Benghazi against his killers a week after his death.  He will be missed.”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Salafist Threat to the Intrepid Graves in Tripoli

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

The Salafist Threat to the Intrepid Graves in Tripoli

        By William E. Kelly, Jr.

Two recently released official government reports on American interests in Libya clearly show the disparity in our government’s policies, one ignoring the radical Islamic threat and the other examining it in detail.

On the night of September 4, 1804 Lt. Richard Somers of Somers Point, New Jersey commanded the USS Intrepid as it sailed into Tripoli harbor outfitted as a fire ship in a special mission to destroy an anchored pirate fleet. Instead the ship exploded killing all three officers and ten men, whose bodies washed ashore and were buried by American prisoners from the captured frigate USS Philadelphia.

The recent Department of Defense study on the feasibility of repatriation of these remains of US Navy heroes from Tripoli fails to even mention the threat to them posed by the radical Islamic extremists while the Benghazi report on the assassination of US Ambassador Chris Stevens clearly identifies the threat they pose and the continued lack of security in a revolutionary and lawless land.

The DOD report on the Tripoli graves concludes with the unreasonable, outdated and obstinate Pentagon policy of not treating the remains of all Americans killed in action abroad with the same honor and respect.

The feasibility of repatriating the clearly identified remains of the men from the USS Intrepid is very easy, what is difficult is changing the Pentagon policy of not repatriating those who were killed abroad in combat before the 20th century.

Their tired excuses of why they don’t want to repatriate the Tripoli remains have all been adequately addressed, especially the unfounded fears that if these men are returned, as the families of the officers have requested, there will be a flood of requests from other families who want the remains of their kin returned as well.

But as Chris Dickon documents in his book “The Foreign Burial of American War Dead” (McFarland, 2011), there are no other families who would seek such repatriation. Dickon also notes that there are only a few other examples of Americans buried abroad in marked graves that are not secured and cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission, as those are in Flanders and Normandy.

The military claims that it was “a fine Navy tradition” to bury the dead on a shore near where they died, but that is not the case today and the Somers family has always expected the remains of Master Commandant Richard Somers to be someday returned to Somers Point, NJ, and they still expect that to happen, hopefully in our lifetime.

It was never a matter of if he would be returned, only when, and now it is not the Libyan government preventing it but the US Department of Defense. With the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and with a Libyan government in transition, the graves clearly threatened and the current window of opportunity presents a time and reason to make that move.

The Navy’s lack of confidence in their own conclusion that the remains of the Intrepid men are buried in the clearly marked crypts in the corner of the Old Protestant Cemetery is a question that can be easily answered by simply opening the crypts, counting the remains, identifying them as the men of the Intrepid and attempting to positively identify the officers through DNA testing. The same procedures are used every day by the dedicated and committed DOD POW/MP forensic officers, some of whom recognize the significance of the Tripoli case and want to take on the mission.

The Navy’s determination that the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli is “the final resting place” for those men is belied by the facts presented in the recently published Libyan history book “Secrets of the Old Protestant Cemetery,” which notes that more than half of those interred there have been removed and reburied elsewhere. It says the cemetery was only meant to be a temporary resting place for those mainly European diplomats and their families who unexpectedly died there.

More recently, the remains of many dozen – nearly a hundred American service men and their families buried in the Italian cemetery near the former US Wheelus Air Force base were exhumed and quietly repatriated home. Attempts were made to identify them and notify their families and they were reburied in a cemetery near Dover, Delaware, even though their Tripoli graves were intended to be their “final resting place.” But now they are safely home, unlike the Intrepid heroes.

Most significantly, the DOD report on the Tripoli graves fails to even mention the most serious threat to them from the radical Islamic extremists, known as Salafists, who have already desecrated the graves of British soldiers in Tobruk and exhumed and made off with the remains of Sufi Muslim saints buried in the floors of Tripoli mosques.

Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi – commander of Ansar al-Sharia, Libya’s largest Islamist brigade said, "Our brave youths will continue their struggle until they impose Sharia."

The brigade has an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, and Zahawi confirmed in a BBC interview that his brigade had demolished and desecrated Sufi shrines in Tripoli and Benghazi, which they regard as idolatrous. He said, "It is a religious duty to remove these shrines because people worship the deceased and this is prohibited. It is not me who says so but rather our religion."

While most Libyans seek democracy and like Americans for their assistance in ousting Gadhafi in the earliest days of the revolution, a small minority of orthodox Libyan Islamists want to impose Sharia law, suppress the rights of women, forbid music, prevent the veneration of Muslim saints or keep anyone from honoring the dead. These grave robbing Islamists are the same radical extremists who support al Qaeda and the Taliban, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and his aides.

Last Memorial Day 2012 Ambassador Stevens led a delegation from the US Embassy to honor the men buried in the Intrepid graves in the cemetery during an annual memorial service. When Stevens was killed, his remains weren’t buried there where he died, as the Intrepid men are, but Stevens’ body was returned home and met by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. 

When the remains of John Paul Jones were discovered under a Paris street, they were ordered returned home by President Teddy Roosevelt and honorably reburied in the chapel at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Nearby is the Tripoli monument, America’s first monument dedicated to those who died fighting for this nation, which is inscribed with Somers’ name and the names of those officers who died with him. It was meant to be a gravestone and include their remains. 

Instead the remains of these heroes still lie in a cemetery near the shores of Tripoli harbor, each crypt clearly marked: “Here lies the remains of an American sailor from the USS Intrepid destroyed in Tripoli harbor September 4, 1804.

Some Islamists, including the Salafists, believe that tombs are a corruption of Islam's teachings because they turn graves into shrines and distract from the worship of God. In Misrata the Salafists destroyed the 400- year old tomb of holy man Sidi Nasr Azzi with anti-tank guns. In Derna, which William Eaton and Sgt. Presley O”Bannon had captured in 1805, Salafists demolished the tomb of Sidi Nasr Aziz, a sheikh reputed to have been a companion of the Prophet Mohammed. In Tripoi, the Sidi Nasr mosque was broken into at night and destroyed two tombs, including one holy man who died in 1760.

According to Islamic scholar Giles Kepel, Salafist jihadism combined "respect for the sacred texts in their most literal form,...with an absolute commitment to jihad, whose number-one target had to be America, perceived as the greatest enemy of the faith."

If the American grave stone markers aren’t attacked and desecrated and the crypts robbed of their bones as soon as the radical Salafists discover their location, they will surely be targeted whenever an anti-American demonstration is called for, which is only a matter of time.

Who will get to them first? Will it be an American forensic team who brings them home to be properly buried with full military honors, or radical Islamic extremists who will desecrate their graves and give their bones to the dogs?

William Kelly is the author of “300 Years at the Point” and “Birth of the Birdie.” He resides in Browns Mills, New Jersey.

20 Columbine Ave.
Browns Mills NJ 08015