U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, center right, with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz, center left, and General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, third from left, places a wreath at the grave site of 13 U.S. Navy sailors during a ceremony at the Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya, on December 17.
“These brave sailors from the Intrepid, who died in the service of their country, have our nation’s enduring respect and gratitude,” Panetta said after the visit. “Having sailed into harm’s way to secure our nation’s interests, they volunteered for a dangerous mission and paid the ultimate price. Their courage and that of their fellow sailors and Marines have forever emblazoned the shores of Tripoli in our nation’s conscience.”
The sailors were killed during an 1804 attack on the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor.
“I cannot visit a place such as this without also reflecting on the thousands of Libyan people who gave their lives for freedom,” Panetta said. “They sacrificed so that Libya and her people could have a new era of hope and opportunity, and because of their sacrifices the torch of freedom burns brightly here in Libya.”