Marine Corps Four-star General John F. Kelly became POTUS Trump’s second Chief of Staff amidst historically low approval ratings, a stalled legislative agenda and an escalating Russia investigation
“They love us everywhere we go, so when in doubt, send the Marines” –Tom Lehrer
By Eileen Fleming
Marine Corps Four-star General John F. Kelly’s first challenge as Mr. Trump’s Chief of Staff is to bring order to an alarmingly dysfunctional White House, which must begin with disciplining POTUS Trump, for the chaos in the West Wing begins and ends with him.
Born in 1950, John Francis Kelly hitchhiked to the outer reaches of Washington State from his home in a Boston suburb by the time he turned 16. Kelly served a year in the Merchant Marine and later said, “My first time overseas was taking 10,000 tons of beer to Vietnam.”
When the 1970 draft came up, John F. Kelly signed with the US Marine Corps and by 2003, he was a brigadier general. In his 40 years in the military, John F. Kelly earned a reputation for bluntness, the respect of his peers and was frequently at odds with the Obama administration.
As a four-star general, Kelly spoke out on issues including Obama’s plan to shutter the prison complex in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the perceived vulnerability of America’s borders.
In 2010, while serving as a battlefield commander in Iraq, his 29-year-old son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, stepped on a land mine while leading a platoon of Marines in southern Afghanistan. He was killed instantly.
The Washington Post reported:
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is one of Kelly’s closest friends and was the one who rang the doorbell at his home early one morning in 2010 to tell him his son had been killed in Afghanistan. The instant he saw Dunford, dressed in his service uniform on the front porch, Kelly said he knew his son Robert was dead. “It was disorienting, almost debilitating,” Kelly wrote of that morning. “At the same time my mind went through in detail every memory and image I had of Robert from the delivery room to the voice mail he’d left a few days before he died. . . . It was as graphic as if I was watching a video.”
Four days after his son was killed, Kelly said in a speech to Marine veterans and business people:
“Our country today is in a life-and-death struggle against an evil enemy, but America as a whole is certainly not at war. Not as a country. Not as a people.”
Without once referring to his son’s death, General Kelly spoke passionately about the military’s sacrifices and its troops’ growing sense of isolation from society stating:
Their struggle is your struggle. If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service and not support the cause for which they fight — our country — these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.
Furthering that thought is co-founder of the grassroots movement, We Americans and the USS Liberty, Philip C. Restino who wrote:
‘Thank you for your service’ and singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch doesn’t cut it. Demanding from our servant government full and proper accountability for the 34 American servicemen killed and 174 wounded by the foreign state of Israel is the test before you…
Sergeant Bryce Lockwood was the only Marine to survive Israel’s 8 June 1967 attack on the USS LIBERTY.
On 2 October 2007, John Crewdson a Chicago Tribune Senior correspondent interviewed Lockwood and reported:
Bryce Lockwood, Marine staff sergeant, Russian-language expert, recipient of the Silver Star for heroism, ordained Baptist minister, is shouting into the phone: “I’m angry! I’m seething with anger! Forty years, and I’m seething with anger!”
This reporter followed up with Ol’ Sarge Bryce Lockwood by phone on 10 November 2007, and he was still shouting until he broke down and cried as he recalled that day in infamy when the Lyndon Baines Johnson Administration instituted a treasonous cover-up of Israel’s unprovoked attack on America’s then top Intelligence gathering [spy ship] vessel, armed with only four .50-calibre machine guns.
The USS Liberty was sailing in international waters, flying the American flag during the Six Day War.
As ordered by the LBJ Administration, Lockwood bottled up his experiences until the evening of 26 September 2006, when he publicly vented inspired by Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who was addressing a crowd of over 400 at the National Avenue Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri.
When McGovern asked the crowd if they had heard of the USS Liberty three people raised a hand and he called on the man closest to him who stood ramrod straight and stated:
“Sir, Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, United States Marine Corps, retired. I am a member of the USS Liberty crew, Sir; I have not been able to [speak about the attack]. But it has been almost 40 years, and I would like to try this evening, Sir.”
Bryce Lockwood is a descendant of Mayflower pilgrims and had been a Russian linguist and Staff Sergeant Marine on special mission aboard the most easily identifiable ship, for it was 455 feet long and festooned with radio aerials.
Ol’ Sarge Bryce Lockwood informed me that, “Admiral Tom Moorer, a former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs stated that the LIBERTY was the most identifiable ship in the US Navy. He thought it was the ugliest ship in the Navy. I thought it was pretty!”
Lockwood choked up frequently as he recalled the events of June 8, 1967 and the posttraumatic stress he has endured for forty years:
“Ten feet from where I stood that torpedo that may have been made in the USA hit us and twenty five Americans died immediately…
“Before the attack, some sailor had gotten blank Teletype paper and made a four by six foot Israeli flag and using a blue felt tipped marker he had drawn the Star of David on it. That torpedo struck only a few feet from it.
“That torpedo that may have been made in the USA hit a main brace and absorbed the energy. If that torpedo had hit six inches to the left or the right of that brace, the LIBERTY would have split in two!
“My first thought was: I guess this is it God! I am coming home! But at least my kids and Lois will be taken care of. I would never deny that it was God that kept the LIBERTY afloat!
“I could have saved myself, but it was Phil Tourney who saved me and an unconscious man I had been trying to save. It was Phil who opened the scuttle hole to check how badly the ship was hurt and I was on the other side. I had been trying to carry an unconscious man up the ladder and every time I got to the top of the ladder I dropped him. The only light I had was coming through the torpedo hole, a torpedo that may have been made in the USA.
“Nobody can actually prove that torpedo was or wasn’t made in the USA, but my understanding is that America sold WWII surplus torpedoes to Italy and Italy sold those torpedoes to Israel.
“You also need to understand that the sea has natural rolls, and every time the ship rolled water gushed in and out of that torpedo hole, a 36 X 24 foot hole, the size of a small American home!
“I dropped this guy four times trying to get up the ladder; every time I dropped him I could see him being sucked out of that torpedo hole; a torpedo that may have been made in the USA!
“I was so angry, the hatch was sealed shut and I was pounding on it for help. Phil broke regulations for he didn’t have clearance to be there, but he saved our lives. There was so much confusion, I passed out for a while and when I came to I was told I saved the lives of three men, but I only remember two.”
Lockwood wailed and needlessly apologized for crying then continued:
Both my Arabic linguists, Sergeant Jack Raper and Corporal Eddie Rehmeyer were killed…
After the 25th Reunion of the LIBERTY Vets I was sitting in a truck stop in Cabool, Missouri.
I am wearing a LIBERTY t-shirt and this lady comes up to me and asks if I was from Norfolk, where the LIBERTY had been docked.
She tells me she had been Gary Blanchard’s fiancé. Gary was sitting in a boatswain’s chair chipping and painting when the jets struck and riddled his kidneys with shrapnel…
Dr. Keifer sedated him as he told him, “Gary, it doesn’t look good, but if I don’t operate you won’t make it.”
Gary never woke up.
I let Lockwood catch his breath and composure for a few minutes before I inquired what was his mission, and had there been any Hebrew linguists onboard?
Lockwood replied that Lt. Commander David Ed Lewis:
Called Raper, Rehmeyer and me together and told us that our mission was to keep track of all the Russian and United Arab Republic’s communications.
He said if we picked up any Israeli communications to note it and drop it.
I am not saying there weren’t any Hebrew linguists aboard and I certainly was in a position to know about it, but I had no knowledge of any.
An English reporter, I think his name is Trevor Penick, he worked for Thames Television in London and when he interviewed Moshe Dayan he questioned him about the LIBERTY and American Congress.
Dayan said something like, ‘Forget about Congress. We own Congress.'”
This reporter met Ol’ Sarge Bryce Lockwood for the first time on USS LIBERTY REMEMBRANCE DAY 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery.
He did not shout but did raise his voice for the soon to be released “We Americans and the USS Liberty” DVD to speak about 50 years of PTS due to the USA Government Cover-up and Obstruction of Justice case against the USS Liberty Veterans:
Sign Petition to Congress: HONOR the USS LIBERTY
Eileen Fleming is TADN’s volunteer Health Reporter and Senior Non-Arab Correspondent
Fleming produced the UNCENSORED “30 Minutes with Vanunu” Mordechai, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower
Contact her HERE
- Vanunu still has more nuclear secrets to spill, Israeli court declares - December 29, 2021
- 9/11 and a 20th Reflection of That Day - September 5, 2021
- Mordechai Vanunu: Final Annual Update and this Writers Next Steps - June 19, 2021