In the long run, there is no JUSTICE without FREEDOM. There can be no human rights without LIBERTY. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for LIBERTY, we stand with you.
— President George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address
On June 8, 1967, Gary Brummett was a twenty year old Third Class Petty Officer assigned to the Boiler Room aboard the USS Liberty, a Navy intelligence/spy ship that was brutally attacked while sailing in international waters. Israeli air and naval forces aided and abetted by the LBJ Administration cold bloodedly ended the lives of 34 Americans, wounded 174 and irrevocably and traumatically altered the lives of all the men aboard the USS Liberty.
“After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis finally halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. This same torpedo boat crew had been circling the ship, machine-gunning anyone who stuck his head above decks, as well as the lifeboats the crew had put over the side. A torpedo boat officer asked in English over a bullhorn: ‘Do you need any help?’ The wounded commander of the Liberty, Captain William McGonagle, instructed the quartermaster to respond emphatically: “Fuck you.”
Brummett had been on the bottom most level all during the attack, “For thirty-five years I kept this devil bottled up. I felt like I had it under control, but it all became so real again, after I retired from the Post Office and joined the Board of the Liberty Vet’s Association. I was the Vice President for two years and President and three years.
“The attack was the easy part; the aftermath in not being able to get our government to address this cover up has been the bastard. I’ve had forty years thinking about this crap and all the presidents and Congressmen and Senators since LBJ are guilty for not addressing this issue that has been set before them. The few congressional representatives who have tried to address this have been silenced by the Israel Lobby; AIPAC and the JDL.
“The apologists for Israel like A.J. Cristol in his book of half truths and errors claimed there have been investigations. In checking the Congressional Record you will see the only investigation was the original Naval Court of Inquiry. The Liberty Veterans Association has offered $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove there was ever a Congressional investigation and so far, no takers!
“The Naval Court of Inquiry was done by two officers under the command of Senator John McCain, Sr. and it was concluded in six days! After Admiral Kidd delivered it to Washington, parts of it were altered, stuff was excised out, and it was falsified with intent!
“When the attack occurred, I was in the engineering spaces, and we called it the Dungeon. I was there, twelve to fifteen feet below the water line when the torpedo hit and I remember it as vividly now as when it happened. My back was to the boiler heater, I was looking at the starboard [right] bulkhead [wall] when the torpedo hit. I was beyond fear of death, but that feeling didn’t last too long. The torpedo hit about fifteen feet forward of the space I was in. It felt like it lifted the Liberty out of the water and we rolled to port [left] side and I thought we would capsize.
“The hole measured twenty-two by thirty-nine feet and it was like the destruction of a three story building. The entire space flooded in a matter of moments and it was a nightmare scenario.
“The day before, I and another third class boiler tech, J.P. Newell, had worked for over twenty-two hours and been awake for over thirty because of the boilers. If the water gets too low in a boiler it will over heat and rupture. Everything on that ship ran on steam power; the electricity, the fire hoses, cooking, laundry, commodes and the turbines that turned the shaft and moved the ship!
“We had been working on the Coffin Pump, an auxiliary feed pump that supplies water to the boilers. It’s a good thing we did get it fixed, because during the attack we needed that Coffin Pump because both main feed pumps seized on us about half way through the seventy-five minute attack.
“I had gotten burnt from the super heated water in the early morning on the day of the attack and after going to sick bay J.P. and I had coffee on the mess deck. J.P. then went back to finish the work on the Coffin Pump and I took a shower and went to sleep until 10 AM and then I went back to the Dungeon.
“On the PA System I could hear the Officer of the Deck call five or six times for the duty photographer team to go up to the bridge between ten and one that day. Ten to twenty minutes after a routine general quarters drill the attack started, about 2 PM. I smelled gun powder and things got hot and heavy and more furious from that point on.
“We were trained incessantly like Pavlov’s dogs, so, you don’t think you just react. I kept busy and when that torpedo hit the engineering spaces were all ready dark because the turbo generators had been knocked off line. The missiles had destroyed our back up emergency generators and the only light available were hand battle lanterns.
“Israel said they stopped attacking us after the torpedo hit, but that’s a big lie! I think they stopped shooting at us because they ran out of ammunition. When we got to Malta, I was one of five two men teams that counted the direct hits and while the official record states 821 direct hits plus the torpedo there were thousands of rounds of ammo that hit us and no way could they all be counted!
“It wasn’t until June 9th just after midnight that I went to the mess deck and saw bodies all over the place; on the floor, the tables and blood was everywhere. Men were crying for their mother’s! It was an emotional mix master, unreal, surreal. I was a twenty year old kid and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I even knew something was very wrong with what had happened to us.
“The dead had been in storage lockers for a few days before we even had time to move them into the freezers. Out of a crew of 294, 34 were killed, over 170 injured so that didn’t leave many of us to do everything.
“When we got to Malta two Navy Officers informed my group of about a dozen crewmen that National Security was involved and we were all ordered not to talk, ordered to keep our mouths shut, no talking to reporters, no details to family.
“The closest safe harbor was Crete, a day an a half away, but we were sent to Malta, a six day trip with bulkheads so contorted we could have sunk in waters that went down 17,000 feet! We still don’t have submersibles that go that deep! I think they sent us to Malta so that D.C. could have four more days to get their story straight and they hoped we would all sink!
“I was baptized a Christian when I was thirty-eight years old and while I believe it was God that kept the Liberty afloat I also think that my life was spared for another purpose and reason and LIBERTY means FREEDOM!”
See previous parts: Remembering the USS Liberty and The Torpedo that Hit the USS Liberty: Made in the USA?