Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-2600
Washington DC 20301-2600
May 22, 2014
Dear Secretary Hagel,
Thank you for listening to the families of the MIA and POWs and reorganizing the POW-MP-JPAC offices, as their most glaring failure was the refusal to repatriate the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli, a mission that must still be completed.
The last official report (2012) fails to mention the serious threat to the remains by the grave robbing Salfists - the same radical extremists believed to be responsible for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the recent wave of political assassinations, diplomatic kidnappings and grave desecrations.
The Benghazi headquarters of the Salfist Ansar Shariah militia, designated a terrorist organization by the US government, was recently attacked by a general who inflamed their passions and hatred for Americans, making the situation more critical now than ever before.
These orthodox Islamists don’t believe in the education of women, singing and dancing or the reverence of the dead, and try to impose their beliefs on everyone. They are of the same sect as the Taliban, who kill schoolgirls in Afghanistan, and those who desecrated the tombs of Islamic holy men in Derna. They are of the same religious beliefs as the Boco Horan, who kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and they espouse the same fanatical beliefs as the Tripoli pirates we fought in the Barbary Wars two hundred years ago.
One of the first things Chris Stevens did as ambassador was to visit the graves of the men of the Intrepid. When the US Navy conducted a ceremony at the graves in 1945, the Mayor of Tripoli was Yousef Karamanli, a namesake and descendent of the despot we fought two centuries ago. So it’s not difficult to understand why Chris Stevens sympathized with the Libyan people, supported their revolution, and was helping them establish a democratic nation when he was killed by the same radical extremists who now threaten the graves of the American military heroes who were left behind.
The Libyan Revolution ended at Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square where the only real martyrs are the Americans who perished on one of the first special op missions, a mission that continues today and won’t be completed until they are brought safely home.
A few years ago the State Department arranged for the emergency repatriation of nearly a hundred Americans from Wheelus Air Force base cemetery near Tripoli, but they left behind the remains of the men of the Intrepid, and the eminent danger posed by the grave robbing Salafists presents an emergency that requires the repatriation of their remains as soon as the situation their permits.
As the Secretary of Defense you have the power to order a Joint Service mission to recover the remains of these men so the POW/MP office can reclaim its honor, a real historic repatriation ceremony can be held and these men can be honored and buried safely at home with their shipmates.
Unlike at the Grave of the Unknowns, there are no armed guards protecting these men, and it will be to our everlasting shame if their graves are found to be empty and desecrated.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,
William E. Kelly, Jr.
20 Columbine Ave.
Browns Mills, N.J. 08015