Today’s guest on “The Covert Report” is Ernie Gallo, survivor of the USS Liberty attack by Israel.
The USS Liberty holds important lessons for all of us as the US braces for a major push for military engagement, following ISIS victories in Iraq, a war that had no purpose except to advance Israeli military interests.
Gallo shares how the USS Liberty was a virtually unrmed intelligence ship that came under deadly, sustained, deliberate fire from military forces of Israel, a nation with which the United States maintains a close, cooperative relationship that is undeserved in light of these events.
The assault occurred on June 8, 1967, in broad daylight, when the ship’s markings and a large American flag rippling in the breeze clearly identified the Liberty as American. Israeli fighter planes, in more than 30 sorties, sprayed the vessel with deadly rocket and machine-gun fire and napalm. A torpedo from Israeli gunboats ripped huge holes in its hull. When rubber life-rafts were lowered into the water as a preparation should the abandon-ship order be given, the torpedo boats shot them to pieces.
In the wake of the assault, 34 U.S. crewmen were dead and 171 were critically injured.
The survival of the USS Liberty is a direct testament to the exceptional heroism and bravery of Captain McGonagle, who received a Congressional Medal of Honor. But the Navy took pains to conceal the most important details of his heroism and the identity of the attacking military forces.
Despite severe wounds and heavy bleeding, Captain McGonagle stayed on the badly-damaged bridge throughout the assault and for 17 hours thereafter, inspiring the damage- and fire-control efforts that miraculously kept the ship afloat.
More concerned about placating Israel than honoring the USS Liberty and its crew, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara prohibited a nearby U.S. aircraft carrier from sending fighters to defend the beleaguered ship. The next day President Lyndon B. Johnson accepted the specious Israeli claim that the assault was a case of mistaken identity.
The citation gave McGonagle a well deserved salute: “[With full knowledge of the seriousness of his wounds… [and] despite continuous exposure to fire, [McGonagle] maneuvered his ship, directed its defense, supervised the control of flooding and fire, and saw to the care of the casualties….He refused much-needed medical attention until convinced that the seriously wounded among his crew had been treated….”
The medal was awarded only after assurances that the Israeli government had no objections.
By the end of our show, we think you’ll agree with our message to Congress: Before they cast another vote for Israel, the American people demand that Congress name a ship after Captain William McGonagle, honoring his exemplary service that embodies the Navy’s best tradition of leadership.
It’s high time Congress remembers who they serve!