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. 

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