Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Richard Somers Mural Fund

Fundraiser for Richard Somers Mural in Somers Point 

Art of 'His' Story fundraiser

The Somers Point Arts Commission and The Somers Point Historical Society are hosting a fundraising event "The Art of "His"story," from 2 to 4 p.m.on Sunday March 8 at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, 908 Shore Road.

The Art of "His"story honors the life of Master Commandant Richard Somers, USN, a native of Somers Point and one of the first naval heroes of the United States. 

The event presents the plans for a public mural that will be painted on the Somers Point Library, Atlantic County Branch at the corner of Shore Road and New Jersey Avenue. The mural will overlook the Richard Somers Memorial Park and the bronze bust of Master Commandant Richard Somers.

The event will include a wine tasting presented by Passion Vines Wine and Spirit Company, a silent auction, introduce the mural artist, and unveil the design for the mural.

Tickets are $35 and are available by sending a check to Somers Point Arts Commission, Somers Point City Hall, One W. New Jersey Ave., Somers Point, NJ, 08244; mural fundraiser on the memo line. Reservations will be held at the door.

For more information call 609-653-4991 or email

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two Hundred Years Apart - Joined in Death in Tripoli

Two Hundred Years Apart - Joined in Death in Tripoli -

William E. Kelly

                                                           Tripoli Harbor

                                                Two Hundred Years Apart 

Richard Somers, Henry Wadsworth and Joseph Israel are separated by two centuries from Fernando L. Ribas-Dominicci, Paul F, Lorence and David Berry, but they share a similar fate – dying on the shores of Tripoli while opposing Islamic tyranny. 

They should all have their names engraved in the Tripoli Monument at Annapolis, they should all be eligible for the Medal of Honor and all of their remains should be recovered and buried with full military honors alongside their fellow veterans in a protected cemetery, but that won’t happen as long as the top brass in the military have their way.

Somers, Wadsworth and Israel died fighting the Basha of Tripoli Yousef Karamanli, an Islamic tyrant and pirate, but their remains were left behind in Tripoli as prescribed by law and they are not elegible for the Medal of Honor because they fought and died in a war that preceded such traditions.

Ribas and Lorance were shot down in 1980 over Libya during Operation El Dorado Canyon, air attack on Gadhafi’s home, and while Ribas’ remains were recovered, the search for the remains of Lorance continues.

Berry, a former US Marine, was killed by Islamic State suicide terrorists at the Corinthian Hotel, an attack by an affiliate of the Islamic State was said to be in retaliation for the death of Abu Anas al-Libi, who was picked up off a Libyan street by US special forces and he died while awaiting trial in New York City for the attack on a US embassy. His remains were returned to his family in Libya, just as the remains of Berry were returned to the United States.

Anas al-Libi received a hero’s welcome in Libya, similar to that of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi when he was freed from a Scottish prison.

                Abdelbasset al-Magrahi with Saif Gadhafi at the former Wheelus Air Force Base, Tripoli 

Berry’s body was returned home to his family and he was buried with full military honors in a ceremony similar to the one Chris Kyle received and as portrayed in the film American Sniper.

The remains of another young Navy officer from Philadelphia James Caldwell were never recovered and were last seen being mauled by dogs on the Tripoli beach, while the remains of Somers, Wadsworth, Israel and ten men of the USS Intrepid were recovered and buried on the high ground near the old castle fort by prisoners from the captured frigate USS Philadelphia.

And there they remain. Over time other Christians who had the misfortune to die in the predominately Muslim city and society, were buried alongside them and in 1830 the British built a wall around what became known as Old Protestant’s Cemetery.

                                                              Inside the Cemetery 

According to the most recent research including deep background from the Libyan’s own published history “Secrets of Old Protestant Cemetery,” the remains of the officers and all of the men are within the walls of the cemetery, some likely within the above ground crypts that have been identified and clearly labeled as those of the men of the USS Intrepid

Secrets was researched and published at the same time as the Gadhafi government’s renovation of the cemetery and the U.S. State Department’s nomination of the cemetery to the United Nation as a World Heritage Site.

The UN however, cannot protect its World Heritage sites, as dozens of them have been damaged or completely destroyed in recent times by the same radical Islamists who ransacked Timbuktu.

The twin Buda statues that stood tall in Afghanistan for centuries were the first to fall to the Taliban, stirring outrage around the world, but failing to stop the Ben – from destroying the ancient Islamic archives at Timbuktu, where they imposed strict Islamic law for a few months, long enough to dislodge the remains of Muslim saints and holy men from their tombs, as these radical extremists believe in a strict orthodox version of Islam that doesn’t permit the veneration of the dead. And they don’t allow anyone else to venerate them either.

Turkey recently invaded Syria in order to save the remains of the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, relics that were being guarded by soldiers besieged by Islamic State terrorists who wanted to destroy the shrine, relics and historic remains in the name of idolatry.

Soon after the Arab Spring and Libyan revolution radical extremists filmed themselves desecrating the graves of British soldiers at Tobruk, and dug up the remains of Islamic Sufi saints from their graves beneath the floors of mosques in Tripoli.

After Lorence’s and Ribas-Dominici were shot down while bombing Gadhafi’s Tripoli home in 1986, Ribas-Dominici’s remains were returned after the intercession of the Pope, but the remains of Lorence, like those of Caldwell, were never recovered.

When Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in Benghazi with his associates, their remains were returned home and received at the airport by the Secretary of State and president.

When David Barry was killed by Islamic State suicide killers, his body was returned home, but the remains of Somers, Wadsworth, Israel and the men of the Intrepid remain left behind within the walls of the old cemetery, now besieged by radical Islamists.

As explained by Chris Dickon in his book “The Foreign Burial of American War Dead” (McFarland, 2012), the Tripoli remains have not been recovered because the law doesn’t require the government and the military to treat all veterans equally, and only requires those who died in combat abroad since World War I to be returned home - if their family requests.

President Obama recently awarded a Medal of Honor to a Civil War officer who distinguished himself in the battle at Gettysburg, but despite the efforts of Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser and others, only those who served since the Civil War are deemed eligible for the Medal of Honor.

The military refused to repatriate the men of the Intrepid because, as their 2012 report affirms, they don’t have to.

The men who fought and died in the Barbary Wars against the same Islamic enemy deserve the respect, rights and honors received by those who are at the front lines today -

Now is the time for Congress to act on this discrepancy

Therefore Be It Resolved: Under the Powers granted to Congress – the US government and the US military shall treat all veterans with equal status and respect without regard to when they served – and give special consideration in awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to the officers of the USS Intrepid – Lieuts, Richard Somers, Henry Wadsworth and Joseph Israel for their leadership and inspiration in the continuing war against Islamic tyranny. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Navy Responds to Repatriation

Department of Defense 
Office of the Assistant Secretary
(Manpower and Reserve Affairs)
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington DC 20350-1000

Jan 20 2015

Mr. William Kelly
20 Columbine Ave.
Browns Mills, NJ  08015
Dear Mr. Kelly,

Thank you for your recent letter to the Secretary of Defense requesting the repatriation of remains associated with the USS Intrepid from the American Cemetery in Tripoli. I am responding on behalf of the Secretary of Defense.

The position of the Department of Defense continues to be that the repatriation of remains would go against the Navy’s custom and tradition honoring the final resting place of those lost in downed ships and aircraft. Additionally, there are many scientific, historical and social realities that would make the repatriation of Intrepid remains very difficult, perhaps impossible, some of which are noted in the 2012 study you cited in your letter.

While we are unable to support the repatriation of remains in this case, we do have a vested interest in maintaining the grave site as an honorable and hallowed place. In 2010, we engaged the Libyan Minister of Antiquities and Archeology, and subsequently a project commenced to renovate and restore the grave site to its proper form. Given the current turmoil being experienced in Libya, it would not be prudent to engage on this issue at this time. However, when the situation stabilizes an assessment of the cemetery’s condition will need to occur.

I sincerely appreciate your commitment to honoring our nation’s Veterans....

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(Military Manpower and Personnel)