According to a report today, former ET3 James “Terry” Halbardier was awarded the Silver Star for action onboard USS LIBERTY. That action occurred 42 years ago next week. Of note, his citation reportedly mentions the attack on LIBERTY by Israel…a fact missing from the numerous other citations awarded to LIBERTY crewmen. The facts surrounding that attack are still debated, but the former crew of LIBERTY know what happened that fateful day.

Also according to the report, decorations for LIBERTY crewmen include:

Medal of Honor – CAPT William McGonagle, Commanding Officer

Navy Cross – LCDR Philip McCutcheon, Executive Officer

12 Silver Stars

23 Bronze Stars

200 Purple Hearts

Presidential Unit Citation

Bravo Zulu shipmate! Congratulations on your long-awaited recognition.

Posted by Fouled Anchor in Navy
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  • Chuck Hill

    Liberty is another reason our AGIs should be armed–we aren’t fooling anyone, and we have a perfect right to operate in international waters. The recent incident with China could have been as deadly as the Liberty.

  • Byron

    There’s an idea…turn the LCS into an AGI, and then she’ll get just as shot up as the Liberty. Yes, that was sarcasm.

    No offense, but the only thing that would have saved Liberty from the pounding she got was a CG ready to fire back.

  • Grampa Bluewater


    And the reason not to use a CG in the first place would be?

    Oh, cost.

    Well to use a phrase all too common these days, by what metric did you project the cost?

  • Byron

    The metric is that it’s always stupid to put an unarmed/lightly armed ship in a place where it can get shot to pieces.

  • Fouled Anchor

    Gentlemen, valid discussion, but let’s not allow this shipmate’s valor to become just another footnote in a debate of LCS or arming AGIs.

  • Byron

    Roger that, Chief. My only point was that no good can come from putting an unarmed/lightly armed US Navy ship in close quarters to harms way with no support to speak of.

  • Natty Bowditch


    Your experience with LCS is…?

    The point is lessons learned about 40 years ago don’t necessarily age well. Also, the crew of the LIBERTY wasn’t expecting a coordinated attack from our ally.

  • Byron

    Out of respect to the Chiefs wishes, I’ll refrain from responding.

  • Fouled Anchor

    And I do thank you for that. Let me just state for the record (don’t want to get in trouble with Admin) that I’m not the moderator. I just hoped people would discuss this Sailor’s bravery and valor…and that of the other crew members. While I personally feel that discussions about the LIBERTY attack in general are appropriate, I believe using LIBERTY as an example/precedent regarding future platforms, although important, should be addressed separate from a post about the (delayed) awarding of a Silver Star…our nation’s third highest medal for valor.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Glad to see a brave sailor get the recognition he deserves.

    Way too damn late.

    (Warning: Old curmudgeon opinion follows.) Especially since he and his shipmates were hung out on windy corner with no way to defend themselves by bonehead Flag Officers and various bunches of guys sitting around tables in DC.

    Now Natty, I spell: ALFA: unarmed third party forward observers hanging around an ongoing battle tend to get picked off by one or the other engaged parties who may want to keep something unobserved.

    BRAVO: Expectations in battle get you killed. Things go from koolaid and cookies on the veranda to death cage match with mad mamma grizzly bears on no notice. Expect and prepare for trouble, the worst kind of trouble, pray it doesn’t come. That’s not a 40 year old lesson learned, that’s the nature of the business.

    CHARLIE: Navy sailors on Navy ships therefore need to go armed. Heavily armed, drilled daily, dead eye accurate, and quick on the draw. So they can go home to make and dandle babies. Anything less is just Russian roulette.

    DELTA: Shipboard sailors follow orders, good or bad. When the orders ignore the above, good sailors die. Needlessly. Regardless, their duty is to do the best they can with what they have (h.t. FADM E. J. King). Liberty’s Captain and crew did better and braver than the Navy has a right to expect and does anyway, because our sailors are US Navy sailors. May it ever be so (about our sailors, not bonehead orders).

    The flag means the officer concerned is responsible to issue good orders that keep good sailors from dying needlessly. Sometimes thiry years before the fact, in a memo setting forth a design concept. It is their duty to keep that in mind, all day every day.

    Hope that clears it up.

    Chief: this is a footnote on the valor of a brave sailor. Nothing more. Nuff said.

  • Fouled Anchor

    “Chief: this is a footnote on the valor of a brave sailor. Nothing more. Nuff said.”

    Roger all shipmate…appreciate the curmudgeonly wisdom.

  • Byron

    When two old crusty Chiefs are rumbling around, I tend to stay in the weeds… 😉

  • Natty Bowditch


    The slogans are kind of exciting but not much light is shed.

  • Fouled Anchor

    @Natty – I disagree. I think Grandpa’s lessons are pretty straightforward.

    Alfa – Even if you are not directly involved, you’re still potentially going in harm’s way.

    Bravo – Considering alfa, you better expect the unexpected, and be prepared for it.

    Charlie – Considering alfa and bravo, you need something more than 45s and M1s (IIRC that’s all they had), and you better be proficient with them.

    Delta – If you’re a flag officer putting a unit in a potentially hostile area, you better have their backs with units ready to act.

    Maybe not ground-breaking observations, but still good lessons to remember.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    FA: ayep. Over the years they keep coming up.

    Byron: Old, yes. Working hard on getting older. Crusty, that might be a mite unkind. Never had the honor for the other thing. Learned at lot from a lot of them, though.

    Call me a dinosaur, I don’t mind. I never waded in the shallows and placidly munched lily pads.

    Natty: New is good, sometimes. I used to like to look for new ways to lose ships and sailors, all the better to not get involved in that sorta thing. Haven’t found any, just old ways I didn’t know about (h.t.: Harry Truman) Still, nothing wrong in remembering to “watch out for stobor”.

    But we digress.

    BZ USS Liberty. You done us proud. Never let anybody tell you different.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    FA and Grampa,

    Well-put. To Grampa’s “Charlie” I would like to humbly propose the corrolary …”and permission to use them in defense.” Because not far from there, sixteen years later, some of those very same lessons were ignored in sticking BLT 1/8 in Beirut. Swapping gray steel for sandbags, and Marines for Sailors, the results were similar.

    Natty, I would caution that the endless line of “revolutions in military affairs” we get so enamored with never, ever change the basic nature of war, particularly in the last 50 meters of contact. Nor do they change the nature of our enemies. It is entirely our folly when we assume they do.

  • Byron

    Copy that, Granpa, my grandson calls me a dinosaur every once and a while. Then I have to remind him that while I’m almost 58, I’m still fast enough to take him 😉