Happy Flag Day!
Fifty-six years ago last Saturday the USS Liberty was attacked by the Israeli Air Force and Navy in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea during the Arab-Israeli War, …
Happy Flag Day!
Fifty-six years ago last Saturday the USS Liberty was attacked by the Israeli Air Force and Navy in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea during the Arab-Israeli War, also known as the “Six-Day War.”
The Liberty was a Navy technical research ship, a euphemism for “spy ship.” When I was in the Navy in 1969 I was on the USS Belmont, the sister ship to the Liberty. Both ships were converted from Victory ship hulls built during World War II to transport men and equipment to/from Europe into intelligence gathering platforms.
Interestingly the Belmont’s original name was the “Iran Victory,” a name that probably would not work too well these days, but I digress.
The space I worked in on the Belmont was the space that absorbed the greatest damage from the attack on the Liberty. The stories are numerous but the attack is said to remain the only hostile incident in U.S. military history not publicly investigated. There is even a theory that President Johnson knew of the attack and did not respond because if the Liberty was sunk there could be plausible blame on the Arabs thus bringing the U.S. into the war on the side of the Israelis. Damn, the war didn’t last long enough for that kind of decision-making.
And you thought politics just got complicated today. As George Carlin once noted, “Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”
Thirty-four sailors died in the raid and the ship limped into Malta. There is a story that Communications Technician in Charge, Bill Ward, left the Liberty and boarded a nearby destroyer and then proceeded to retrieve many of the Confidential, Secret and Top Secret documents that had fallen through the hole in the damaged hull of the ship created by the torpedo attack. There is no credible evidence that those documents were ever shown to anybody without a security clearance and a “need-to-know” but then again who am I to know for sure. That was a long time ago.
However, given all the political developments of the past week I have today decided to save a few bucks and discontinue my safe deposit box at Sound Bank, removing any and all confidential documents for storage in my bathroom. That is, after I move all of my stockpiled pandemic toilet paper.
You may remember the Moskva, a Russian guided missile cruiser serving as the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet sunk by Ukraine military forces 16 months ago in the early stages of the war in Ukraine.
When I was aboard the Belmont in 1969 our mission was to shadow the Moskva’s predecessor, a helicopter carrier also named Moskva, operating in the Mediterranean. I suspect the Moskva and the Belmont of the 1960s exist today in the form of razor blades or some other consumer steel product. Like anybody who has served in the military I have lots of stories about things that can only happen there, but I will not take this space for them, at least not this week.
The sports stage is certainly active with the college baseball World Series for both women and men, (Oklahoma women champs again?), the National Basketball Association Denver Nuggets might be champs for the first time, the Mariners struggling like nobody expected, the Seattle Storm struggling like everybody expected, Ferrari winning the 24 Hours at LeMans for the first time in 50 years.
So sports and politics prove Leo Durocher right again when he said, “I believe in rules. Sure I do. If you did not have rules how could you break them?”
Love a curmudgeon, break some rules and have a great Father’s Day.
(Ned Luce is a retired IBM executive and Port Ludlow who served aboard the USS Belmont when the ship was originally called “Iran To The Mess Deck.” Contact Ned at email@example.com.)