Take The Liberty Not To Forget


By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.


8 June 2012 is the 45th anniversary of the sudden and brutal attack on the US Naval ship, the USS Liberty. 34 US Sailors, Marines and civilians were killed when the Israel Defense Force repeatedly attacked for more than nine hours. The attack was not the worst part of this tragedy.

To add horrendous insult to injury the administration of the then sitting President gave orders for responding US forces to stand-down and not render combat support. Except for the few surviving crew members and family sadly there are not many who remember or care.

There is always another war and more dead American service members. But this was not war it was an attack by an alleged friend. Some answers would be nice; some closure would be even better—if there is such a thing.


The USS Liberty did not deserve the assault she received.
The Israeli’s were waiting to destroy her, their right, they believed.
They knew she was a US ship that could not fight a combat war.
Their Mirage fighters showed the aggression for our sailors they bore.

Why they did it, why they killed so many American sailors that day
They would never really explain and were never made to pay.
They deliberately fired on our ship, with our flag flying as she sailed.
No one was held accountable; no one ever went to jail.

Where were our forces that could have come to the Liberty’s aid that day?
Why did they wait for over 90 minutes in their carrier, hangar bay?
Even after they had launched the fighters, they were called back.
How does McNamara stand today without the spine he allegedly lacked?

It’s been said the Israeli’s meant to put the Liberty on the ocean floor.
Blame it on the Egyptians; maybe the US would join their desert war.
Maybe we’d attack Cairo for its alleged dastardly crime.
Had it worked, the Israeli’s would have changed history’s time line.

If the Liberty had sunk, we would have joined Israel’s fight.
It was not enough, we gave them money and our best technical might.
They wanted us killing “their” enemies with the ferocity they espoused
By putting our sailors in coffins, forever to be housed.

Don’t send hate mail about some misguided anti-Semite.
U.S. citizens, of any religion, have their constitutional rights.
Rise to strike any and all of whom might threaten an American.
Israel cannot be allowed the killing of our sailors, just because they can.

Israel is not alone in accountability for this floating slaughter-yard.
Some of our own ran and hid, when the politics got too hard.
No way were we going to war over the deaths of some U.S. sailor-boys.
Once again, we were the puppets of an Israeli sanctioned ploy.

The State of Israel has the justifiable right to survive.
It’s a tiny nation, forever under their enemy’s watchful eye.
We are not their enemy; we are the best friend they will every get.
But what about those 34 sailors, whose lives were so cruelly, forfeit?

Hah, Hah LBJ, how many sailors did you let die that day?
How many sailors would never return to their children to play?
How many careers were threatened, that to talk would be destroyed?
We would not wage war on our alleged “friend”, over 34 dead sailor-boys.

The ship’s Captain received the Medal of Honor, in a back-office gloom.
It would not be done in the White House, with the press, in the East Room.
We did not want to offend our “ally” or send the wrong message out.
Neither, LBJ nor McNamara were seen that day skulking about.

There has to be a reckoning for what was done to our American ship.
Despite the Israeli’s best efforts, the Liberty remained a radar blip.
When the last rounds were fired at her, the Liberty still rode the wave.
We must account for our wounded, of our dead, and for our brave.

It is not over by a long shot; we can’t let this travesty rest.
We demand a reckoning of our lost comrades, for our military’s future best.
Some day the full story of the Liberty will be revealed.
For its survivors, the truth will finally be forever unsealed.

We buried another veteran today.
It seems, all my life, it has happened this way.
This time it was our sailors; to their God they were released.
I pray there comes the day that brings Liberty families final peace.


Major Van Harl USAF Ret. was a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force. After retiring from the Air Force he served as a state police officer in Nevada, was a member of the Crime Scene Investigation Unit for the City of Wichita Falls, Texas, Police Department and later retired from the Colorado Rangers. Harl currently lives in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin with his wife Col. Dawn Harl USAF NC, daughter Felicity and two dogs.

Contact Major Van Harl by email at [email protected]



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Restino, a peacetime veteran having served a 2-year entlistment in the U.S. Army Infantry, is co-chair and a founding member of the Central Florida chapter of Veterans For Peace and a member of Military Families Speak Out - Florida. He lives in Port Orange, FL. Veterans For Peace is made up of veterans working together for peace and justice through non-violence since 1985. The Central Florida chapter covers from Greater Orlando east to Greater Melbourne and north to Greater Jacksonville. For more information, visit the chapter website at www.cflveteransforpeace.org or the national VFP website at www.veteransforpeace.org.