- On June 8, 1967, 34 American sailors of the USS Liberty
lost their lives serving their country. These Americans died when Israel,
America's "ally," launched a murderous attack on the virtually
unarmed American intelligence ship. To this day, many Americans are unaware
that this attack even took place. Recently, PRAVDA.Ru had the opportunity
to interview Mr. Hrankowski, a survivor and crew member of the USS Liberty.
- Greetings Mr. Hrankowski! We at PRAVDA.Ru greatly appreciate
this exclusive interview. We feel that, as a USS Liberty survivor, you
are in the unique position to shed light on actually what happened and
why. It is a great tragedy that 34 young American sailors died while serving
their country. It is a even greater tragedy that the general public knows
next to nothing about this event.
- What position did you serve on the USS Liberty?
- My position on the USS Liberty was in the Engineering
Department. I was a boilerman. I also worked for the chief engineer in
the log room office.
- One of the main questions regarding this attack is whether
or not the Israeli attackers knew that they were attacking an American
ship. The Israelis have claimed that they misidentified the Liberty for
the Egyptian horse carrier El Quseir, but it has been reported that the
USS liberty flew an American flag and was distinctly marked with US markings.
It is also known that slow moving recon plans flew over the USS Liberty
numerous times. Is there any doubt in your mind that the Israeli military
knew that they were attacking an American ship?
- There is no doubt in my mind that the Israeli attack
on the USS Liberty was deliberate. Israel has claimed that it was a mistake
and that they were firing upon an arab horse freighter. The El Quesir was
the name of the Arab ship. It was tied up and not sea worthy during the
Six Day War, and the Israelis knew this.
- As for our Flag. All American ships fly the flag. Ours
was flying until the Israelis shot it down and within seconds another was
put up. It was our holiday Ensign, sized 9 feet by 13 feet.
- As for the slow moving aircraft. Planes started flying
over us and checking us out at 5:30am and did so 9 to 13 times until the
attack at 2:00PM. There is no doubt in my mind that they knew who they
- It has been reported that the USS Saratago, responding
to a SOS from the Liberty, launched jets to help the Liberty approximately
15 minutes into the Israeli attack. Why were the jets recalled? One could
say that this act left American sailors to be murdered by an enemy force?
- A message from the USS Liberty got to the USS Saratoga
9 minutes into the attack. The USS Saratoga launched a flight of fighters
immediately and they were called back. This happened three different times
throughout the attack. Robert MacNamara called them back twice, and President
Johnson called them back once, saying his thoughts were not for the USS
Liberty. He did not want to embarrass his ally Israel. That act did leave
us to get murdered, and what it actually is called is abandonment.
- Once your captain, William Loren McGonagle, realized
that the Liberty was in danger of sinking, he ordered the crew to abandon
ship. At this point, there were only three life rafts left that weren't
damaged. Your crew placed as many wounded into the life rafts and lowered
them over the side of the Liberty. Please tell us what happened next.
- The order was given by the captain to abandon ship, because
he thought we were going to sink. Three life rafts were in the water, but
then Israeli Torpedo boats came up to them and shot two of them up and
grabbed one on the boats. That is against the Geneva Convention.
- What prompted the Israelis to terminate their assault?
- I'm not sure what caused them to terminate the attack,
but after 2 hours, they could not sink us. I would think that their time
had run out.
- How long did it take for American help to arrive?
- It took 16 hours for the American fleet to get to us.
But that night, while we were sailing to the sixth fleet, a Soviet ship
offered help to us. They said that they would stay just at the horizon
and if our ship was going to go down, they would help us.
- In a recent letter to President Bush, survivor Phillip
F. Tourney claimed that the crew of the USS Liberty were "ordered
to remain silent under threat of court martial, imprisonment, or worse,
and we all know what worst meant." Did you yourself experience such
- Admiral Kidd was the one who ordered us silent. That
was a direct order to all of the crew. I heard it myself that day.
- If what has been reported is true, the Israeli attack
on the USS Liberty can only be described as deliberate. In your opinion,
why did this attack take place?
- As for why the Israelis attacked us, I'm not sure. I
would not be able to give you a reason, because it would only be a guess.
There is a new film out by the BBC called Dead in the Water. It was released
in England on 6-10-02 and it gives some startling new evidence as to why
the attack happened.
- Has the American government considered reinvestigating
- There are a few Congressional personal interested in
helping us. We're hoping that they are really willing.
- It would seem that this event has been covered up. Giving
all the information that has come forth and the testimony of such people
as Secretary of State Dean Rusk and former JCS Chairman Admiral Thomas
Moorer, the version that this attack was a mistake is very hard believe,
which means that it was covered up for some reason. Why, in your opinion,
was such a tragic event as an attack on US sailors covered up?
- You ask if the USS Liberty attack was covered up. My
answer is simple: yes, it was. The question still remains today as to why.
And with a Congressional Investigation, all the facts should be laid out
and the reasons known.
- Your commanding officer, Captain William Loren McGonagle,
received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his services to his country.
However, unlike tradition, when the president of the United States bestows
the Congressional Medal of Honor, Captain McGonagle was awarded his medal
in the Washington Navy Yard. In your opinion, why wasn't your captain awarded
the medal according to tradition?
- Our Captain did receive the Congressional Medal of Honor
but not in the White house like it usually is given, but in a shipyard
in Washington DC. Not many of us knew that he got it until many years later.
On his written citation, there is no mention that Israel was the attackers.
The same goes for all of our medals and citations; the Israelis are not
mentioned at all.
- In your opinion, if the general American public were
to become fully aware of Israel's attack on the Liberty, could this affect
the "special" relationship that America shares with its "ally"
Israel? For instance, if many Americans learned of the attack and the cover-up,
they might be less willing to bankroll Israel with financial and military
- I'm not sure if that would happen. I think that if the
truth be known about the attack it would hurt for a little while, but it
would be a piece of history finally put to bed.
- Do you keep in contact with fellow Liberty survivors?
If so, do they express hope that American will reinvestigate the attack?
- We USS Liberty survivors are always in contact. We all
fight for the same thing. They want the investigation to happen soon, so
we can all go on with our lives.
- Is there anything else that you would like to add?
- I thank PRAVDA.Ru for the time to express my views of
the June 8, 1967 attack on my ship, the USS Liberty. I do hope your country
will be able to see the new film by the BBC Dead in the Water by Mr. Christopherer
Mitchell. There is also a new book that goes along with the new film. It
was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Mr. Peter Hounam and is due to come
out very shortly. The film and book open the incident up very well.
- Mr. Hrankowski can be contacted at the following address:
- John Hrankowski 45 Drumcliff Way Rochester, New York
14612 USA 1-585-225-0385 http://www.ussliberty.com