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9 Jun, 2010 02:13

US victims of Israeli attack remember their ordeal

Before Israeli forces raided and killed nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, 34 US service men were killed by Israeli forces in 1967 during the the Six Day War.

The USS Liberty was a Navy research ship in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula when Israeli air and naval forces launched an attack that lasted over two hours.

Among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery is a hidden chapter in American history. Survivors and family members of the USS Liberty victims gather here every year on June  8 to remember what happened to their loved ones 43 years ago.

It’s an honor for me to get a chance to honor them at least once a year,” said USS Liberty survivor Calvin Landis.

“It’s not anger, it’s sadness – great sadness that not only a close ally deliberately attacked the ship, but the fact that the US sat by and allowed Israel to attack the ship,” said Jane Emory, whose brother was killed in the attack.

For 40 years, survivors of the USS Liberty – sworn under oath – were forbidden to tell their stories. But today, the surviving crewmen talk candidly about the dreadful day their nearly lost their lives.

“We couldn’t even open the hatch up because they were shooting at us so bad, there was no place to go, and they shot the life rafts. If we had to go into the water, there probably would have been no survivors,” said USS Liberty survivor Jack Beattle.

Jim Smith was aboard the Liberty when it was bombed for over two hours by the Israeli air force.

“The Israelis claim it was a mistaken identity, and the U.S. government brought that explanation. I’m saying a mistaken identity does not allow to sufficient time to shot all the antennas, to shoot the four gun tubs we had and the shaft the bridge, if it’s mistaken identity than you don’t know what you are looking at,” said Smith.

As the years drag on, the anniversary never gets any easier.

There’s nothing, medicine, booze, nothing takes it away. It’s just something you have to live with,” said Landis.

The tale of the USS Liberty became a story of courage and betrayal. As another year passes by without a congressional investigation the survivors wonder if justice will ever come their way. THey hope that one day Israel will face harsh penalties for killing American citizens in an event many claimed was a cover up.