Wednesday, June 8, 2011

USS Liberty hero dies without seeing justice

USS Liberty hero dies without seeing justice

Published: Jun 8, 2011 00:01 Updated: Jun 8, 2011 00:07

WASHINGTON: Forty-four years ago, on June 8, 1967, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked a US intelligence ship, the USS Liberty, with gunfire, napalm and torpedoes in international waters for more than two hours.

My friend, John Hrankowski, was on board.

During the assault, hours before Israel’s invasion of the Golan Heights during the six-day war, Israel destroyed the ship’s antennas and jammed its radios.

Finally, the crew managed to send a distress call to the USS America, which sent two fighter aircraft to save the ship.

But then US Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, and then President, Lyndon Johnson, recalled the planes — giving Israel time to fire torpedoes.

When the Liberty failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted a bizarre tale of mistaken identity to cover its crime. and they’ve stuck by that claim ever since.

By the time two US destroyers reached the Liberty — 16 hours after the attack — 34 officers and civilians of the 294-man crew were killed, and 174 injured — many, like my friend John Hrankowski, seriously.

Hrankowski, then 20, who worked as a technician in the ship’s engine room, received the Purple Heart-and a lifetime of serious medical problems.

The USS Liberty was the most decorated ship since the Second World War, and perhaps the most decorated for a single attack in the history of the US Navy.

It is also entirely possible that Liberty survivors broke another record-dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the nearly 44 years since the attack.
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USS Liberty hero dies without seeing justice

US Liberty Memorial

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