The story of the USS Liberty


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Captain McDonangle

Medal of Honor recipient


Liberty Arrives

1 June 1967

The Liberty arrives at the American Naval Station at Rota, Spain.

2 June 1967

The Liberty leaves Rota for the eastern Mediterranean.

5 June 1967

The Liberty hears news of the outbreak of fighting in the Middle East. the ship's captain Commander William L. McGonagle requests of Vice Admiral William I. Martin, commander of the Sixth Fleet, a destroyer escort that could both protect the Liberty and serve as an auxiliary communications station.

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Liberty after attack

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Prelude to attack

8 June 1967


11:00 AM

The Liberty is reconnoitered by a flying boxcar.

11:30 AM

Again the Liberty is reconnoitered by a flying boxcar.


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Three Israeli torpedo boats leave Ashdod on    high-speed run to the Liberty.

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12:15 PM

Yet another flying boxcar reconnoiters the Liberty.

12:45 PM

And again a flying boxcar reconnoiters the Liberty.

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The attack

2:00 PM

Three unmarked Mirages take out radios 1400 two Mirage aircraft 5 minutes (30mmcannon & 36 rockets)


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Three jets approach. One flies 5 or 6 miles to starboard. Everyone expects it to settle into the now familiar reconnaissance pattern. As they watch a second plane dives in from port and fires rockets at the bridge. The attack on the United States has begun.

They attack again and again with rockets and 30 mm armor-piercing shells. Blood flows so thickly over the metal floor of the pilothouse that sailors trying to transverse the deck slip and fall into the blood. The dead, dying and wounded are scattered about.

                                                                                                              2:08 PM

Three unmarked Super-Mysteres attacked with napalm and dozens of rockets two 30mm gun

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More planes come with rockets, cannon, and the dreaded napalm turning the Liberty into a floating hell. The Israelis hit everything they wanted to hit. and they had the right ordnance to do the job required:

-- heat seeking missiles to take out the tuning coils of every HF antenna

-- fragmentation bombs to take out the parabolic disks fore and aft

-- the first strafing run destroys all means of communications and all means of survival

-- the last attack is with napalm.

However, the crew was able to patch up it high-command radio-circuit antenna to send out flash messages but they discovered that all frequencies were being jammed. The jamming only stopped when the planes launched their rockets. Thus, the jamming came from the planes and could not be used while the rockets were airborne.

2:09 PM

The carrier USS Saratoga acknowledges Liberty's call for help.

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Two unmarked Mirages with rockets - canons

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Saratoga 12 Phantoms are airborn

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2:24 PM


The torpedo boats close in with their 20 mm and 40 mm machine guns blazing. Five torpedos launched

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McNamara calls Adm Geis and orders the Phantoms recalled

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2:35 PM

At first the torpedo boats fired 3'' shells into the engineering spaces in hopes of blowing up the boilers.

After their attacks the three torpedo boats reduced speed and began firing machine guns at the waterline with the purpose in mind to sink her. On the Liberty it looked like the ship would sink so three life rafts were lowered into the water. One of the Israeli boats shot up two of them and the third was brought aboard as a war trophy.

There were to be no survivors!

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3:05 PM

Two large Israeli troop-carrying helicopters that circled the ship and then departed without any attempt at communication.The commando's mission was to kill all survivors.

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3:45 PM

The Sixth Fleet launches planes from the USS Saratoga. & USS America

Planes were ordered to the rescue of the Liberty on two occasions. In the second attempt the USS America also launched aircraft. Both time the Secretary of Defense MacNamara ordered the planes back. There was a challenge from the fleet when ordered back the second time. President Johnson came on the line and confirmed the order saying, Pres Johnson.jpg (3281 bytes)

"We will not embarrass an ally."

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Planes return to carriers

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4:32 PM

The torpedo boats return and offer "assistance." It is bluntly refused.

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6:35 PM

An Israeli helicopter arrives and indicates that it wants to land. Commander McGonagle gave then the finger.




The aftermath

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