At the Monday, November 2, 2015 Clay County Missouri Commission meeting, the Clay County Commission declared itself a “Purple Heart County” through a courtesy resolution.
Commissioner Nolte said of the resolution after reading it, “One of the most important parts is the idea that we never forget the sacrifices made and the sacrifices continuing to be made by members of the armed forces. It’s easy to become a little bit complacent. Let’s hope that we never get to the point that we don’t remember.”
Commissioners Owen and Ridgeway echoed similar comments about the designation. Ridgeway asked attendees at the meeting who served to be recognized for their service.
Attending the Commission meeting were GySgt Bryce F. Lockwood USMC (Med. Ret.), a purple heart recipient, and Commander John D. Dismer from the Missouri Military Order of the Purple Heart. Both men spoke to the Commission for about ten minutes after the presentation of the resolution by Nolte.
Dismer said that only about six-tenths of one percent of all servicemen and women have ever received a Purple Heart. Of that small group, half of those were awarded posthumously (after death).
GySgt Lockwood shared with the commission the history of how he was awarded the Purple Heart. Lockwood served on the USS Liberty in the late 1960s. Military intelligence at the time was collected by ships instead of the satelite technology that is in use today. The spy ships were named after cities from the around the United States. Lockwood’s ship, the USS Liberty, was actually named after Liberty, Missouri.
The Liberty was stationed in the Mediterranean prior to the Six-Day War in 1967 tasked with the primary mission of observing Soviet involvement in the war. On June 8, 1967 the Liberty was attacked by unmarked planes which were later discovered to be from the state of Israel. A total of 34 Americans and wounding another 171. Lockwood was one of the crew members that were wounded. A picture of the USS Liberty and Lockwood are below.
Commissioner Owen asked Lockwood to expand more on the attack asking if it was ever discovered why the ship was attacked. One theory is that Israel had plans to attack the Golan Heights on June 8. They may have been concerned about the fact that USS Liberty would have been able to see this. Another theory is that President Lyndon B. Johnson may have actually sacrificed the USS Liberty with the intent to give America an excuse to be involved in the Six-Day War. Lockwood commented that these theories are strictly speculation.
The most commonly accepted explanation of the attack is that of mistaken identity with Israel claiming they thought the Liberty was actually an Egyptian ship. Israel did pay compensation to the families, the victims, and the United States.
Commander Dismer presented the County Commissioners with a plaque honoring yesterday’s designation.
Commander Nelson Duncan and Vice Commander Jerry Braton of the Gladstone American Legion Post 626 also attended the Commission meeting. Both men spoke briefly during the public comment portion of the Commission meeting. Duncan mentioned that they are working to get remaining WWII and Korean War Vets on an upcoming Honor Flight. Braton spoke briefly about the Clay County Veterans Memorial. Braton encourage individuals who have never seen the memorial to go and visit.
There will be a ceremony next Wednesday at 1:00 PM at the Clay County Veterans Memorial for Veterans Day.