Richard Somers was appointed a midshipman in April, 1797. He served on the USS United States in the Quasi-War in France, and captained the Nautilus in the Med, subsequently leading a division of gunboats that repeatedly attacked Tripoli. The Tripolitan corsairs had captured the nation’s attention during the Barbary Wars, and eventually Somers – serving under Stephen Decatur – volunteered to command the fire ship Intrepid, destined for the pirate fleet hard by a fortress in Tripoli. In an inherently hazardous mission, Somers and his crew of twelve volunteers died when their ship exploded prematurely. Their bodies floated ashore, were feasted on by dogs and dragged through the streets. They lie now in an ill-kept mass grave in the Libyan capital. A capital, which – for the first time in decades – is well-disposed to the United States.
Their families want to bring their remains home, but Navy is fighting the effort.
This, I don’t get.