"It Was God That Kept Us Afloat"
November 3rd, 2007
It was the events of THAT DAY we call 9/11 that woke this pampered
physician's wife up to the fact on the ground that people in the world
hated the U.S. so much, that they would target and murder innocent
I did not react with fear, but curiosity. I did not want to shop as
President Bush encouraged us all to do if we wanted to help. I wanted
my questions answered and the MSM was not asking them and Congress was
not demanding them.
Seven years ago, I was your typical uninformed, misinformed American,
but with diligence and persistence I have learned much. But, it was
not until June 2005 and my first journey to the Little Town of
Bethlehem: Occupied Territory did my rage erupt against the empire;
the American governments allegiance to Israel's Military Occupation of
It was not until the whistle-blower of Israel's WMD Program, Mordechai
Vanunu informed me of things I had never heard of did I wake up to the
depth of the deception of America's `best ally' and blind collusion of
the U.S.A. government. It was at a rooftop restaurant in east
Jerusalem, where they serve the fish with skeleton and head intact,
and fries on the side, that Vanunu blew my mind, "Did you know that
President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons?
In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Gurion to admit the Dimona was
not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear
plant. The Prime Minister said, `The nuclear reactor is only for
peace.' Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote
letters demanding that Ben Gurion open up the Dimona for inspection.
When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that
two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators
would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground
elevators and stairways. From 1963 to `69, the senators came, but they
never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them."
It was not until October 13, 2007, when Phil Tourney, Petty Officer
and survivor of the attack on the USS LIBERTY affirmed that, "It was
God that kept us afloat" at the "No More Wars for Israel Conference"
in Irvine, California, did I wake up to that day in infamy forty years
ago which remains "the only incident of damage to a major US ship
since the sinking of the USS MAINE in Havana Harbour in 1898, prior to
the Spanish-American War, that has not been investigated by the US
Congress."-Captain Joseph Tully, commanding officer of the USS
Saratoga, page 174, Operation Cyanide, by Peter Hounam.
On November 2, 2007, I conversed on the phone with fellow Floridian,
survivor of the USS LIBERTY, and the current President of the USS
LIBERTY'S Veterans Association, Ernie Gallo, a retired Petty Officer
and Communication Technician on the LIBERTY. We shared our
frustrations seeking justice by beseeching the professed Christian and
our Republican Senator Mel Martinez.
Ernie quipped, "I met with Martinez's legal council and let me tell
you that Congress will not lift a finger to help us. AIPAC would
crucify them! Our government is lock stepped not to say anything about
For forty years our government has denied justice to our Veterans and
crucified the truth because "We will not embarrass an ally."
-President Lyndon Johnson, June 8, 1967.
Forty years ago the American government not only colluded with Israel
in the treasonous cover-up of the attack on the USS LIBERTY the
survivors "were ordered to remain silent under threat of court
martial, imprisonment or worse…The U.S. government has never
challenged the obviously phony Israeli excuse of "mistaken identity"
nor have they attempted to expose the dishonorable cover up that
continues to date. Truth and America's honor were ignominiously
sacrificed to provide cover for Israel's transparent lies and
despicable act of perfidy." -Phillip F. Tourney, President USS LIBERTY
Veterans Association, June 8, 2007, Marriott Courtyard, VA.
The Veterans of the USS LIBERTY have repeatedly requested an open
independent panel to investigate the horrific and unprovoked attack
upon them and have only received pro-forma letters from a White House
staffer in this Administration stating that the attack had already
"This is a bald-faced lie!" Tourney wrote in a postscript to our
Commander In Chief in his most recent appeal.
"The declassification of government documents and the recollections of
former military personnel… showed [that] the Israelis knew they were
attacking an American naval vessel. The documents also suggest that
the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel's reputation and preserve
its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even some of its
participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation."
"Israel got away with cold blooded murder! Forty years ago the CIA and
the NSA all threatened the survivors not to talk! They scared me so
much; I didn't for twenty years… Israel wanted the world to believe
that Egypt [committed the crime]…Thirty-four were killed and 172 were
wounded out of a crew of 294…The Israeli planes marked out the Star of
David so we wouldn't know who was attacking us… Our keel was broken,
we should have sunk but God kept us alive…Eighteen hours after the
attack we were rescued…McNamara said, `We're not going to attack our
ally.' How did McNamara know who attacked us?"- Phillip Tourney, On
October 13, 2007.
"J.Q. `Tony' Hart, then a chief petty officer assigned to a U.S. Navy
relay station in Morocco that handled communications between
Washington and the 6th Fleet, remembered listening as Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara, in Washington, ordered Rear Adm. Lawrence
Geis, commander of the America's carrier battle group, to bring the
jets home. When Geis protested that the Liberty was under attack and
needed help, Hart said, McNamara retorted that "President [Lyndon]
Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a
"The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel's claim
that the attack had been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But
internal White House documents obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson
Presidential Library show that the Israelis' explanation of how the
mistake had occurred was not believed. Except for McNamara, most
senior administration officials from Secretary of State Dean Rusk on
down privately agreed with Johnson's intelligence adviser, Clark
Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council
staff meeting as saying it was "inconceivable" that the attack had
been a case of mistaken identity. The attack "couldn't be anything
else but deliberate," the NSA's director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter,
later told Congress. [IBID]
Ernie Gallo, who had been above the water line when the torpedo hit
the LIBERTY, informed this reporter, "It was a beautiful clear sunny
day and all morning Israeli reconnaissance planes were flying over us,
I counted twelve over flights and one came so close I could see the
pilots face; we waved and he dipped his wing as he went by. We were
all very comfortable because they were our allies. That morning
Captain McGonagle called a general quarter's drill. That's a created
special kind of emergency –I can't remember what the mock drill was
about-but it was to test our skills and the Captain was well pleased.
Because we were in dangerous ground he kept the gunners manning the
machine guns-two guys on each `nest' –this was unusual for them to
stay in flack jackets and heavy helmets after the drill, but we knew
we were in hostile territories. But we were all comfortable; guys were
sunbathing and we were all happy because we saw our friends, the
Israelis in the sky. We were all so very relaxed because of their over
flights; it was like a scene out of McCales Navy.
"It was about an hour and a half after lunch when the unmarked planes
attacked us and they knew exactly where to hit; the communication
antennas! They knew the machine guns weren't a threat, those pilots
were very careful to take out the antennas. Then they dropped two
napalm bombs on us, miraculously the fires all staid on the outside,
and even though the fire hoses were bullet ridden, like a garden hose
and every CO2 canister on board was used, that fire easily could have
gone inside the ship, but the firefighters kept their cool and it
didn't. A Signalman constantly watched that our flag was raised, the
first one burnt up in the fire but in a few minutes he raised the
holiday flag and our ship was well marked with USS LIBERTY on it.
"It wasn't until the torpedo boats came at us did I see the Star of
David again. But the Israelis claim mistaken identity that they
mistook us for the El-Quseir an Egyptian transport ship that only
carried horses [and was a third of the size of the LIBERTY] and had
been tied up and out of use for a year. The LIBERTY had at least forty
antennas- yet Israel claims they made a mistake in identifying us-if
this were ever heard in a Court of Law; it would be beyond belief!
"I was a 'spook' an interceptor, a CT; Communication Technician. Back
then, the NSA had security groups in all the branches of Military
Service. Normal operations were that for four months at a time, up and
down the African Coast, anything within the ambient atmosphere; the
air waves I would monitor. The CT's had a multitude of talents;
Administrators, Linguists, Morse Code Operators, Communicators and
Electronics specialists-that's what I did; kept all the equipment working.
"We all worked behind closed locked doors; none of the rest of the
crew ever knew what we were doing. Our whole purpose in life was to
intercept messages; UHF, LHF, long and short wave. There were two
gigantic Christmas tree antennas on the LIBERTY. Mid-ship there was a
pedestal; with a sixteen foot dish pointed sky wards. How they could
mistake us for a horse carrying ship is beyond belief.
"You know that when the North Koreans attacked the Pueblo, they wanted
to capture it? The North Koreans gave repeated opportunities to
surrender. The Israelis never gave us one! Any of the torpedo boats
could have approached and asked us to surrender or follow them, but
that never occurred.
"The most miraculous part, and I honestly believe the Lord saved the
LIBERTY for a reason and for this time in the world…That ship was
built in 1944, the LIBERTY was a converted cargo ship and the
mechanics of that ship should have broken up and sunk! One foot more
or less from where that torpedo hit and we would have sunk! But that
torpedo hit a brace; and that brace absorbed the energy and kept us
from blowing up."
In 1967, John Hrankowski, was nineteen years old and on his third
cruise on the LIBERTY. "I worked in the engineering department,
responsible for the air conditioning, electricity, water and steam. I
was topside when out of nowhere the blasting of shrapnel knocked me
down. I returned to my general quarters space in the boiler room when
the call came, `This is not a drill; we are under attack.'
"Fifteen feet in front of me the torpedo hit and knocked the ship out
of the water! If that torpedo had hit the boiler the steam pressure of
750 degrees mixed with cold water would have been like an atomic bomb
"The lights went out, the generator was knocked out, shrapnel flew
around me like fire flies; it was dangerous but somehow beautiful. I
worked with a lantern to keep the steam under control. If that boiler
blew the ship would have blown up too!"
One of the men who was below the water line when the torpedo hit was
Navy Chaplain, Ron Kukall. In an email to me on October 22, 2007, he
reported, "On June 8, 1967 during the Vietnam War, I was aboard a Navy
vessel called the USS LIBERTY. This unarmed ship was sailing the
waters off the coast of Israel during the "Six Day War"…It may be
possible that the only reason God saved the LIBERTY was so that we
could tell our story.
"The ship was sailing 15 miles off the coast in international waters
when the Israeli Defense Force attacked her. She was subjected to
torpedoes, 50 caliber machine gun fire, napalm, and rocket fire. There
was over 800 holes in the LIBERTY after the attack, she was listing
about 10 degrees to the starboard, and was on fire in many places.
Thirty-four men were killed and close to 70% of the crew were wounded,
of which I was one.
"For what seemed like an eternity… many miracles occurred during, and
after the attack. The only armament we had were 50 caliber machine
guns, and they were like peashooters against the French built Mirage
jets that attacked the LIBERTY…we were not ready for any kind of
attack whatsoever. The element of surprise was theirs.
"I survived the attack by the planes, but the worst was yet to come,
as five torpedo boats were bearing down on us, with one thing in mind,
and that was to put us to the bottom. Only one found its mark. This
was the second miracle that I was exposed to that day, the first being
the surviving of the onslaught by the jet aircraft.
"The torpedo hit the Liberty almost amidships on the starboard side,
and I was approximately thirty feet from the explosion. There were a
couple of bulkheads between the explosion, and myself but they were
like paper to the several tons of TNT that tore up the bowels of the
Liberty. What had been several compartments were turned into one big
room in a very short time. I was immediately immersed in sea water,
and it was rising fast to the point where it would be above my head in
a short time, and even though I could swim, the compartment would soon
become completely full, and there would be no place to go. The hatch
to the above deck was closed, and dogged down, and so my life again
depended completely on what God would do. Just before the compartment
became fully flooded the hatch above me was opened to let as many of
us as possible out of there before we became a part of a watery grave.
This was the third miracle that I saw that day, but there was even
more to come, and so as I ran to get to the main deck, I was slipping
and sliding because of the water, and blood that was awash within each
"The fourth miracle occurred when I was exposed to the machine gun
fire on the main deck, and still remained alive, and still there was
more to come. Every antenna we had was shot to pieces except one, and
it had never worked very well. One of the radiomen told me that he
tried several times to call for help, and finally when he realized
that all the antenna were shot, he switched to the one that had always
given him trouble, and when it was needed, it worked. We were able to
call the Sixth Fleet, and notify them of our predicament through an
antenna that had hardly ever worked. The fifth miracle had just occurred.
"The attack had gone on for two hours, or more, but it seemed like
only a few minutes. The captain told us that we had lost our steering
control, and that we would have to go aft, and steer the ship
manually. We were able to make headway, and in time were headed for
the island of Malta, and to dry dock. This was almost one thousand
miles away, and here we were with a ship that had a forty by
forty-foot hole in her side, on fire, and riddled with holes.
"The Liberty could go down at any minute, but we did sail the thousand
miles without incident, and this had to be the sixth miracle of the
day. I was one of the crew that went down below to identify the
deceased and I know that God gave me the strength to go and do what
was expected of me. Let it suffice to say that, under the conditions,
only men that were strengthened, and held up by God himself would be
able to enter the dark area down below."
"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither
hid, that shall not be known."- Luke 12:2
Operation Cyanide , Peter Hounam, 2003
Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American
`Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu."
–Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world
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