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)

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