The Murals of San Carlos, Mexico
By Ron Kukal, Former Chaplain for the USS Liberty Veterans Association
US Navy 1st Class Petty Officer and the enlisted man in charge of body recovery and identification.
The Murals of San Carlos, Mexico
One wonders what goes through a mans mind when he is exposed to the brutal consequences of combat. What causes
a man to never forget what he has seen and been exposed to, and why does he never forget? What is it that causes a man
to feel that he or she has escaped the vicious claws of death and has been spared to tell the world of that experience? Larry
Thorn was one of those men along with me, and his way of dealing was different then mine.
As a survivor of the attack on the USS Liberty I believe I am qualified to write about what goes on in a mans mind when
he knows his demise was meant to happen, and yet he has escaped. I survived along with Larry, and although
I have not seen him for a very long time I am not surprised at what he has been able to accomplish in keeping the truth
about the USS Liberty alive and well after forty three years. I know that Larry has been in San Carlos for quite some time and I
never realized how he has coped with the aftermath of the attack. Many of us have gone down seperate paths and in
doing so have left a trail that our countrymen cannot mistake. This trail is comprised of an entangled mass that only God
himself could understand. Some of us have written books, some have done interviews on radio and TV, some have
commemerated the ship by building a 3D model that would make it seem as though one were on board with the men,
and then there is Larry who decided that a picture is worth a thousand words. Yes Larry has made sure that even
those that vacation in Mexico might see these beautiful murals of a US ship that was attacked by the Israeli Defense
Force in broad daylight on a bright sunny day in June of 1967. Yes these murals are a part of San Carlos in so many
ways and there are now two, with a third one being painted as I write this story. One mural is located in a small tavern
called Froggy’s and another in one that is called Mr. Magues. The third to be painted will be in the Club Paradise,
and who knows where it will all go from there.
There is another painting of the attack somewhere in Florida and it is also huge. I believe the portrait is 7 by 13 and
depicts the ferocity of the attack that day when some of the men were caught by surprise sunbathing
while off duty. I have seen this portrait in its earlier stages and can tell you that it is breathtaking as the ones in
San Carlos seem to be. They leave an imprint upon ones mind that will never go away. It is precious life that was
lost that day, and these men were among the most trusted military people in our United States Navy, and Marine Corps.
We also lost one very valuable civilian to this attack that no one thought for a moment was coming.
So I say to those of you who could not get this off their mind that I honor you, each and every one. I could not leave
those who died behind either, and the thought of recovering and identifying these men has never left me. By the Grace
of God what I saw has been mostly erased from my mind, and I only remember now that I had to do that gruesome task.
To the American people I leave this thought. When you go to your memorials to honor the veterans of this country,
would you please remember the men of the USS Liberty? These men will walk the hallowed halls of every memorial
that stands in this great nation. They will walk them for an untold amount of time until they are given the justice they
deserve, and the truth be known. Until that happens this great nation will suffer from the throes of dishonor of our own
kind. It not only will happen, it is happening, and will continue as long as our government turns their back on its own.
This is dispicable beyond even my comprehension, but ladies and gentlemen it most certainly did take place. Our loss
will be yours and it will weigh upon the honor that this country was founded upon for eternity.
Ronald G. Kukal