Jun 09, 2016
by Bryant Jordan
Nearly a half century after the USS Liberty — a lightly armed American spy ship — was almost sunk by Israeli air and sea forces during the Six Day War, survivors say the U.S. still prefers to avoid dealing with what happened and identifying who attacked the ship.
Strafed by machine-gun fire, hit by napalm and torpedoed over the course of the 75-minute attack, the Liberty has one of the most highly decorated crews in American naval history.
Out of that single action came one Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, a dozen Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars for valor, nine Navy Commendation Medals, more than 200 Purple Hearts and a Presidential Unit Citation.
But even when the ship is remembered, as it was last month with a rededication of carillon bells at Naval Station Norfolk’s chapel, an important part of Liberty’s story is avoided: It was attacked by Israel.
“It’s probably political,” said Terry McFarland, a Liberty survivor who organized a memorial service held Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.