Bring them home!

| March 7, 2014


Mary sends us a Washington Post story about the 13 US sailors who are buried in Libya since 1804 from the USS USS Intrepid;

In 1804, the 13 sailors aboard the USS Intrepid were dispatched with explosives to blow up the Tripoli harbor. The city’s ruler had been using it as a base for pirate ships that were pillaging American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, and the covert mission was a last-ditch effort to put an end to the practice.

The Americans’ vessel, however, exploded prematurely — it’s unclear exactly why — killing all on board.

The Navy has respectfully declined to retrieve the remains, saying it believes Libya is the “final resting place” of the sailors and noting that it is custom to honor the burial grounds of those lost on ships and downed aircraft. There was a formal memorial ceremony held in honor of the sailors and crew in Tripoli in 1949, and the Navy says that U.S. Embassy personnel conducted regular services there for decades afterward.

The cemetery that is believed to be the site of most of the remains is U.S. diplomatic property.

Yeah, well, the consulate in Benghazi was “U.S. diplomatic property”, too, well, until September 11, 2012. This is not a suitable resting place for American servicemembers;

Intrepid graves

Category: Blue Skies, Libya

Comments (13)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. OldSoldier54 says:

    Concur. Bring ’em home.

  2. Pinto Nag says:

    Bringing them home may be easier said than done. But I agree: Bring Them Home!

  3. Sparks says:

    Thanks for this article. I agree wholeheartedly, bring these honorable men home.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    I understand the tradition of burying them where they fell. And in the 19th century, bringing those bodies home was not what it is now.

    However, considering the current evironment in the Middle East and how little respect the AQs have for other people’s dead – they destroyed a tomb called the Gate at the End of the World, which held the bodies of 300 Muslim saints – it might be best to disinter these American sailors and rebury in Arlington, to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  5. Atkron says:

    Let’s hope Tunisia’s government never falls and gets to the point that Libya is (Think WWII British Commonwealth Cemetery that was desecrated in Benghazi)

  6. Hondo says:

    There is historical precedent for bringing these men home, as well as for leaving them buried where they are.

    After World Wars I and II, US cemeteries overseas held tens-of-thousands of sets of US remains. During each war, policy was to bury the fallen in-theater.

    However, after both Wars the NOK were given the option to have fallen loved ones either (1) repatriated to the US, or (2) permanently interred in permanent US cemeteries overseas. Legal authority for such repatriation ended in 1951. As I recall, approximately 1/3 of the fallen overseas originally buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery remain there.

    Given the situation in Libya, I’d argue to repatriate the remains of these 13. Not sure what to do about the 2,841 fallen buried at the North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia, though.

  7. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    If the reason for the burials there was the impossibility of returning them home, then that is no longer an issue and home they should be. What I do not like is the statement that “the Navy says that U.S. Embassy personnel conducted regular services there for decades afterward.” In other words, no longer. Thus, another reason to have them home.

  8. Beretverde says:

    “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”

    Bring them home!

  9. Retired NFO says:

    The recovery was almost accomplished several years ago when language was to be inserted in the Defense Appropriations Bill, but John McCain killed it in the Senate.

  10. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “However, at the eleventh hour, Sen. John McCain changed the final language of the legislation in favor of a continuing review of the issue.” source: The AmVet Mag in the link that follows Retired NFO’s comment.

    I love that 11th hour crud. The other link signals that McCain would not oppose the repatriation. McCain is a piece of work.

  11. Roger in Republic says:

    My only comment on this is that if they remain in Tunisia steps should be taken to clean up the site and bring it some dignity. It looks like a backyard in Beirut. If you have seen the American cemeteries in Italy and France as I have, they are beautiful in a somber and quiet way. My mothers cousin is buried at the National cemetery near Anzio where he fell after the invasion. My dad was in the GRS after the war and dragged us to as many of the cemeteries as we could visit during a two year tour in Europe. There is nothing wrong with leaving them where they are as long as the place is maintained and spruced up a bit. The disclaimer is that if we ever leave, for any reason, so do they.

  12. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    Bring them home … I will help.