I guess that it should have been done during WWII - but that is OK; better late than never. This is a good and right thing to bring these shipmates home. If the Libyan situation opens a door for a short period for us to do it - then by all means let's do it.
More than two centuries after they died off the coast of present-day Libya, the remains of the first 13 Navy commandos in U.S. history - in the words of one supporter, the “earliest Navy SEALs” - are one step closer to coming home.First thing - I don't think it was wise to bring this public this early. Gadaffi loyalists may get ideas - as things can happen in that part of the world.
The U.S. House of Representatives, brushing off prior opposition from Defense Department officials, voted last week to insist the Pentagon get them back.
House lawmakers attached the directive to the annual defense-policy bill that cleared the chamber on Thursday, with backers saying it was time to honor the daring men as fallen heroes.
“The United States has an obligation to leave no member of our military behind, regardless of how long ago they were killed,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, who visited the grave sites in Libya in 2004 and co-sponsored the legislation with Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, New Jersey Republican. “Bringing the remains of those brave members of our military home and giving them a proper military funeral will finally end a tragic story that has lasted far too long.”
The commandos were part of President Thomas Jefferson’s war against the Barbary pirates, who terrorized shipping off the coast of North Africa in the early 1800s. The commandos died while on a stealth mission to infiltrate Tripoli's harbor and sail a flaming ship into the enemy fleet that lay anchored there, trying to destroy it and force the release of U.S. sailors the pirates imprisoned on land.
Their ship, the USS Intrepid, caught fire prematurely either by accident or because it was hit by a shot from the enemy, and all 13 men perished.One final note that was brought up by a colleague that is spot on; stop using the term SEAL when talking about these Sailors.
The commandos’ bodies were recovered by the residents of Tripoli.
According to accounts, the remains were fed to dogs, then the U.S. prisoners of war were forced to bury what was left.
I'll let the hyperbole of the author of the article using the word "stealth" go by - but these Sailors are just that, "Sailors."
Before leaders were overtly risk adverse and hyper-focused on narrow specialization - and at a time when "battlemindedness" was assumed and "hybrid Sailor" made as much sense as "wet water" - such missions are what Sailors did when called on.
Throwing the SEAL term around does a disservice to today's SEALS, the Sailors from over two centuries ago - and for that matter all Sailors serving today.
A lot of people harumphed last decade at the concept of a "Naval Infantry Battalion" to help out in Iraq (it could have been useful for USN should have taken control of the Al-Faw/ Umm Qasar area with such, taking the BA/NMP from shore positions and civilian bloat, as we have had "Naval Infantry" within living memory - but such is life) - but for thousands of years Sailors have done such missions.
They didn't need a fancy title - funny little things to pin on their uniform or anything as patronizing as that - all they needed was a good officer to give them the best kit he could and say, "Follow me."
So, stop with the silly SEAL and commando references. These are Sailors - that should be good enough for us. It was good enough for them.