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Remembering the USS Liberty

Event to memorialize lost lives, pointlessness of war

U.S. Navy

The USS Liberty is shown with gunfire and rocket damage to its hull side and superstructure after arriving in Valletta, Malta, for repairs after being attacked by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula in June 8, 1967.
U.S. Navy The USS Liberty is shown with gunfire and rocket damage to its hull side and superstructure after arriving in Valletta, Malta, for repairs after being attacked by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula in June 8, 1967.
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It’s been 52 years since torpedoes struck the USS Liberty, but members of several Iowa-based chapters of Veterans for Peace want to make sure nobody forgets the 34 men lost in the attack.

In addition to remembering the attack, which took place on June 8, 1967, Joe Aossey, coordinator of Veterans for Peace’s Cedar Rapids Chapter 169 organization, said the organization also wants the event to serve as a reminder for the pointlessness of conflict.

“It’s important to recognize, because it shows either the deception of war or the uselessness of war,” Aossey said. “What I’m trying to do with the event is get people to recognize that all of this money and all of this killing around war is such a waste.”

Veterans for Peace chapters 161 in Iowa City and 165 in Des Moines are co-hosting the event, which includes three days of activities. Aossey said Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids, will emcee the event.

Events include:

l June 2: Veterans Bryce Lockwood, of Springfield, Mo., and Mike Schaley, of Clinton, Iowa, will speak at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Both veterans were on the USS Liberty when it was struck by torpedoes.

l June 5: At 6 p.m. at the library’s Whipple Auditorium, a panel discussion will take place on Palestine.

l June 8: An official commemoration will take place at Veterans Memorial Park.

The USS Liberty was a Belmont-class research ship was patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean Sea near the Sinai Peninsula during the Six-Day War, which saw U.S. ally Israel at odds with several Arab nations.

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The unarmed Liberty, which was carrying close to 300 people, was attacked by Israeli planes and ships. A distress call was sent and attack ended when the USS Saratoga and USS America were dispatched.

The attack killed 34 men and injured another 170 people.

The $40 million ship was deemed lost after the attack and sold for scrap.

Aossey said he hopes that by drawing attention to the event, he can broaden the discussion into a larger push against war.

“The question becomes, how do we take that event and get people to think about how useless warfare is?” he said. “I’m hoping we can get the event to go toward civility.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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