How did the

U.S.S. Little Rock and her Crew

participate in the

U.S.S. Liberty Incident ?

Page last updated: 26 July, 2018



Time Period:

08 - 09 June 1967

A Brief History:

At 1403 on 08 June 1967, the fourth day of the brief Arab-Israeli War, while conducting communications and electronic research operations, U.S.S. Liberty (AGTR-5) was attacked by Israeli jet fighters. A bomb hit portside amidships, and two or more Israeli fighters made repeated strafing, fragmentation bomb, and rocket runs over the ship. As a result, three major fires raged topside.

At 1424, three motor torpedo boats, flying the Israeli flag, approached at high speed and at 1434 attacked. Three (possibly five) torpedoes were fired; one passed astern, a second may have passed beneath the ship, and the third exploded on the starboard side, forward, tearing a 39-foot-wide hole in the hull; 34 men were killed, 171 were wounded in the aircraft and torpedo boat attacks. Although severely wounded. Comdr. W. L. McGonagle, the commanding officer, remained at the conn to guide the ship out of shallow water.

Liberty arrived at Valletta, Malta 14 June in company with USS Little Rock. (CLG-4),
USS America (CVA-66), USS Davis (DD-937), and USS Papago (ATF-160). After undergoing repairs, she departed Valletta 16 July for the States in company with Papago.


USS Liberty with USS Little Rock

USS Little Rock CLG4 (in the distance) stands by USS Liberty.
Photo source unknown.



Little Rock with USS Liberty

USS Little Rock CLG4 (far left) stands by as wounded are airlifted from USS Liberty.
Official U.S. Navy Photo


Photos of initial operations between U.S.S. Little Rock and U.S.S. Liberty



USS Liberty listing to starboard
Little Rock Assist Team boards Liberty
USS Little Rock helo on scene

USS Liberty as seen from USS Little Rock
Note pronounce list to starboard. (Note 1.)

Little Rock's utility boat alongside of Liberty
(Note 1.)


USS Little Rock's helo transferring personnel
from USS Liberty to Little Rock (Note 1.)

Closeup view of utility boat
Starboard side damage


Closeup view of USS Little Rock's utility
boat alongside Liberty. Note damage to the
hull of USS Liberty. (Note 2.)

Closeup view of starboard side of USS Liberty.
Note the hole below the waterline. (Note 2.)


 Note 1.  Photos taken and provided by Joseph Wheeler, Capt USMC 1965-1967
Note 2.  Photos taken and provided by Mark Lehmann,  LT 1966-1968



Life Magazine Article

Click on picture to enlarge.


Life Magazine Cover
Life Article Liberty Hull Damage
Life Magazine Article Text
Life Magazine Cover 23 Jun 67
Life Article Photo of USS Liberty
Life Article regarding USS Liberty


Additional Photos of the USS Little Rock Assisting the USS Liberty


Little Rock and Liberty from America

USS Liberty & USS Little Rock from USS America (Note 2.)

Liberty and Little Rock from America

USS Liberty & USS Little Rock from USS America (Note 2.)


Little Rock Standing Off


USS Liberty as seen from the USS Little Rock (Note 1.)

      Notes:
          (1) Photo received from O.F. Blaisdell BM3 66-68
         
(2) Photo is from USS Liberty Web Site


USS Liberty seen from Little Rock

USS Liberty as seen from the USS Little Rock



The Deck Log of the USS Little Rock During the Rendezvous with USS Liberty


1200 -1600
1205
1328
1340
1345

1346
1347
1430










1456
1457
1531

1532

1556
1607
1608
1607
1612
1615
1621
1624
1627
USS Little Rock (CLG-4)                                                     Date Friday, 9 June 1967

Underway as before.
Detached from TG 60.1.9 and commenced maneuvering at various courses at 26 Kts to close the USS Liberty (AGTR 5).
Flight Quarters
c/s to 0 Kts when alongside the USS Liberty.
Lowered the number 1 utility boat to the water and commenced transfer of injured personnel
from the USS Liberty to the USS Little Rock.
Received helo from USS America. No passengers
Helo departed for USS Liberty with VADM Martin, LCDR Bradley and LT Scheiner.
Received the following 8 injured personnel by boat transfer;
    SN Thomas W. Lemond 917-49-31,
    CTSN Nathan G. Benedict Jr. 139-55-74,
    Eugene H. Kirk CTSN 918-81-30,
    CT3 Joe D. Anderson 771-76-77,
    CT3 John V. Brong 913-41-23,
    BMSN Joseph L. Meadors B7104561,
    CT3 Maurice B. Shafer 695-94-86,
    CT2 Stephen E. Meyer 771-42-03, and
    PH1 John J. Kelly 528-32-25 and PH2 Patrick H. Quinn 542-79-75
    from the Combat Photography team of the USS America.
Placed number 3 boiler on the line.
Secured boiler number 4.
CTG 60.1.9 assumed tactical command of the USS Little Rock and directed it to take station
bearing 030° T at 3000 yards from the USS America on base course 120°T, base speed 13 knots.
Recovered the number 1 utility boat with LCDR Bradley aboard. Commenced maneuvering at
various courses and speeds to take station.
c/c to 280° PGC.
Received a helo departed from USS America, passengers VADM Martin and Lt. Scheiner.
c/c to 270° PGC
Helo departed for USS America, passengers CDR Saines, HM2 Biedenboch, and HM2 Shelly.
Received helo from USS America with mail and no passengers.
Helo departed with PH1 Kelly and PH2 Dunivin (Quinn?), for USS America.
Received helo from USS America. No passengers.
Helo departed for USS America with no passengers.
Secured from flight operations.


/s/ D.A. Rocker (*)
LTJG USNR

(*) Note: D.A.Rocker is none other than David A. Rocker, U.S.S. Little Rock Association Member #773. We originally had his name shown as "Rocley". Dave straightened us out however.  See his other comments pertaining to this incident.

Click HERE to see a copy of the above Deck Log.


The following is from the website of the USS Davis  DD-937

(Click HERE to view web page.)

Rendezvousing with TG 60.1 at 1432 on 8 June 1967, Davis assumed her place in the screen of the attack carriers America (CVA-66) and Saratoga (CVA-60), along with guided missile light cruisers Little Rock (CLG-4) and Galveston (CLG-3). At 1719, however, Davis and Massey (DD-778) received verbal orders to proceed at once to the assistance of the technical research ship Liberty (AGTR-5) (Comdr. William L. McGonagle).....The two destroyers reached the limping Liberty during the morning watch on 9 June, finding her listing to starboard, while the plethora of shell and fragment holes topside, the burned and scarred paintwork, and the gaping torpedo hole in her hull bore mute testimony to the unbridled ferocity of the attack of the day before.

Davis's motor whaleboat heads toward the damaged technical research ship Liberty (AGTR-5), 9 June 1967. (The Mediterranean Cruise of the USS Davis (DD-937), in Navy Department Library, Cruise Book Collection). Davis rang down "all stop" at 0632 on 9 June 1967 and lay-to, launching her motor whaleboat; the boat then made runs between Davis and Liberty, transferring medical and damage control parties, the former including Lt. Comdr. Peter A. Flynn (MC), from America, and Lt. John P. Utz, Jr. (MC), DesRon 12's medical officer, from Davis. Massey contributed a corpsman to help treat the wounded. Davis moored alongside Liberty between 0725 and 0942 to continue the process, transferred men (including in their number "leading petty officers from the damage control, electrician, interior communication, and boilerman groups...") then cleared the side while helicopters evacuated the seriously wounded, and the bodies of the slain, to America, which, along with Little Rock, arrived shortly thereafter. The cruiser transferred Lt. John C. Cockram, her damage control assistant, in addition to two corpsmen, to Liberty, and took on board some of the less seriously wounded men.



For personal accounts please visit
"The Crew Remembers the USS Liberty Incident"


(Add your thoughts regarding this event)





Go to "The Crew Remembers the USS Liberty Incident"

Return to 20th Century Historic Events Page

Return to History and Facts Page

Return to HOME Page