Photo Exclusive: Sailor Shares Never-Before-Published Images of Historic Attack on USS Liberty

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USS Liberty from June 9, 1967.
Photo of the USS Liberty from June 9, 1967, along with billowing smoke, likely from the stack of the USS Little Rock. (Courtesy: Greg Knowles / U.S. Navy)

A Navy veteran is sharing never-before-published photographs of the historic attack on the USS Liberty by Israel in 1967, images provided exclusively to Military.com that show the half-sunk Navy ship as other vessels arrive to provide aid.

Greg Knowles, who snapped the photos, was an electronics technician on the USS Little Rock on June 8, 1967, when he heard that the Liberty had been attacked. The Little Rock, a guided-missile cruiser, was ported in Gaeta, Italy, at the time and was launched to assist in the incident that killed 34 Americans, injured 170, and nearly sank the Liberty.

"The first and only actual general quarters we had was called, and we steamed all night to arrive at the side of the shot-up Liberty on the morning of June 9," Knowles told Military.com. "When the captain announced the 'all clear,' I grabbed my Agfa 35mm camera and headed onto the deck."

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Earlier this month, Military.com published a story about the 55th anniversary of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, a Navy "spy" ship attacked in the Mediterranean during the Six-Day War between Israel and a coalition of Arab countries. The survivors are still looking for acknowledgment from the U.S. government that Israeli forces may have known the ship was American prior to its partial sinking.

"Some years ago, I wanted to view shots I had taken in various ports of call in the Mediterranean," Knowles said, "and I was a bit surprised when these popped up."

Photo of the USS Liberty from June 9, 1967.
Photo of the USS Liberty from June 9, 1967, joined by the USS America and other destroyers in its carrier group. (Courtesy: Greg Knowles/U.S. Navy)
Navy helicopter lands on the USS Little Rock near where the USS Liberty.
Navy helicopter begins landing on the USS Little Rock near where the USS Liberty was nearly sunk, June 9, 1967. (Courtesy: Greg Knowles/U.S. Navy)
The USS Liberty showing the now-infamous and identifying "GTR-5,"
The USS Liberty showing the now-infamous and identifying "GTR-5," June 9, 1967. (Courtesy: Greg Knowles/U.S. Navy)

"We were told the deadly attack was simply a matter of mistaken identity," said Knowles. "I hope the survivors get the truth one day."

-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at drew.lawrence@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

Related: 'We're Fed Up With It': Survivors of the USS Liberty Look for Answers 55 Years Later

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