Fifty years ago this week, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War became a milestone in my life.
When the war broke out, I was an enlisted sailor on the USS Terrebone Parish (LST-1156) during our Mediterranean cruise, part of the Sixth Fleet. We were in port, in Valletta, Malta, when the war broke out and were immediately called back from liberty (Valletta was a terrific liberty port!).
After we loaded supplies and fuel, we left port on a course to Alexandria, Egypt, to help evacuate U.S. citizens and get them out of harm’s way. While underway, we heard about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, steaming off the coast of Israel. The attack killed 31 US sailors and wounded 171, nearly sinking the ship.
Knowing how vulnerable our ship was to attack, our mood got serious quickly. We were essentially defenseless, aware that LST stood for “long, slow target.” Fortunately, the war ended in six days, and we reversed course and headed back to Malta, safe and sound.
We were all greatly relieved that Israel won the war so soon. But I never forgot the ultimate price those other sailors paid.