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Today, we revisit a moment in history that remains shrouded in mystery and controversy. Let us recall the poignant words of James Ennes, a lieutenant on the USS Liberty: 'The facts are simple and straightforward. Israeli forces reconnoitered the ship for hours in daylight with unlimited visibility, correctly reported the ship's identity to their headquarters, then attacked the clearly marked and defenseless American ship by air and sea for more than 75 minutes, killing 34 men and wounding more than two-thirds of the 297-man crew.'
This chilling narrative is further underscored by a harrowing conversation recorded between an Israeli pilot and the IDF war room just before the attack:
- Israeli pilot to IDF war room: 'This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?'
- IDF war room to Israeli pilot: 'Yes, follow orders.'
- Israeli pilot to IDF war room: 'But sir, it's an American ship - I can an see the flag!'
- IDF war room to Israeli pilot: 'Never mind; hit it.'
Against this backdrop, we are honored to have Ernie Gallo, a survivor of this harrowing incident, join us today. Gallo was aboard the USS Liberty, a United States Navy intelligence vessel, when it came under a sudden and brutal attack by Israeli forces on June 8, 1967, amidst the Six-Day War. This assault, involving both aircraft and torpedo boats, was not a mere skirmish but a sustained attack that led to the tragic loss of 34 American lives, including 31 sailors, 2 marines, and 1 NSA civilian, while leaving 174 others wounded.
Ernie Gallo vividly recounts the moments of the attack, the immediate aftermath, and the enduring impact this event has had on his life. The USS Liberty, on its intelligence-gathering mission in the Mediterranean Sea, was clearly marked as an American ship, yet it was subjected to an intense assault that lasted over two hours.
In the years following this incident, Gallo, along with his shipmates, formed the USS Liberty Veterans Association, dedicating themselves to uncovering and sharing the truth behind the attack. They challenged the initial Navy Board of Inquiry's conclusion that labeled the attack as an accident, advocating for a re-examination of the events based on their recollections and evidence that contradicted the official report.
The story of the USS Liberty is not just a tale of survival; it is a narrative steeped in controversy, intrigue, and a relentless quest for justice. It raises profound questions about the dynamics of international relations, the complexities of military engagement, and the lengths to which governments may go to protect their interests.
As we speak with Ernie Gallo, we aim to shed light on this dark chapter of history, exploring the motives behind the attack and the subsequent cover-up, and understanding the personal and collective journey of the USS Liberty's crew in their pursuit of truth and recognition.
Ernie Gallo at Heroes Park with memorial plaque honoring the victims and survivors of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty.
Ernest A. Gallo: A Life Dedicated to Service and Advocacy
Ernest A. Gallo is a distinguished individual whose life journey has been marked by unwavering dedication and a profound commitment to various facets of service, advocacy, and writing. His remarkable story unfolds as follows:
Ernie's pursuit of knowledge began at the Philadelphia Wireless Technical Institute, setting the foundation for his academic journey. He furthered his education through undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, demonstrating an insatiable thirst for learning and personal growth.
Ernie's remarkable journey led him to serve in the Navy Reserve, where he rose to the rank of Second Class Petty Officer as a Communications Technician, Maintenance Branch (CTM-2). His service included time as a USS Liberty Survivor, a testament to his resilience and courage in the face of adversity.
Ernie dedicated an illustrious 28 years to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), during which he achieved remarkable milestones. His exceptional contributions earned him the CIA Commendation Medal, a symbol of his outstanding work in the field of civilian intelligence.
Diverse Professional Path:
Post his tenure at the CIA, Ernie's career continued to flourish as he ventured into various sectors, including GTE, General Dynamics, Quality Services Incorporated, TriCorps, Marconi International, and BAE. His versatile professional background speaks to his adaptability and expertise in diverse domains.
Advocacy and Service:
Ernie's commitment to advocacy and service is exemplified through his membership in esteemed organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association, USS Liberty Veterans Association, and the American Cold War Veterans. Notably, he serves on the board of directors for the American Cold War Veterans, showcasing his leadership and dedication.
Leadership and Contributions:
Ernie's leadership prowess shines as a former President and Vice President of the USS Liberty Veterans Association and as the founder of the Liberty Foundation. His efforts have left an indelible mark on these organizations, promoting their missions and causes.
Ernie's talents extend to the realm of literature, where he authored "Liberty Injustices - A Survivor's Account of American Bigotry." Through his writing, he sheds light on important narratives, contributing to a broader understanding of historical events and the challenges faced by survivors.
Ernest A. Gallo's life story is a testament to his unwavering commitment to education, military service, intelligence, diverse professional pursuits, advocacy, leadership, and literary contributions. His remarkable journey continues to inspire and educate, leaving an enduring legacy of service and dedication.
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