Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anniversary of Wheelus AFB Tripoli Celebrated

Qaddafi's delusions displayed amid rebel advance

By Allen Pizzey

(CBS News) As many as 6,000 opponents of Muammar Qaddafi marched through rebel-held Benghazi, in Libya on Saturday. Despite the show of unity against the dictator, increased fighting was reported in the cities of Misrata and Zawiya.

CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports that Qaddaf's forces were trying to halt an attempt by Libya's rebels to push forward in the strategic western city of Misrata, which has been the scene of the fiercest fighting since the conflict in Libya began. The current round of assaults caused the rebels to suffer some of their worst casualties to date.

The first fighting since March also broke out in the key town of Zawiya on the road to Tunisia. The road is Qaddafi's main supply line, and rebel control of Zawiya would effectively cut the Libyan capital off from the outside world.

Tripoli's port is useless thanks to the NATO blockade, which is already causing shortages of vital supplies including refined fuel. Lines at gas stations here stretch for miles.

Whatever the situation on the battlefront, however, the Qaddafi regime never misses a propaganda opportunity. There was a grand show to mark the anniversary of the eviction of the U.S. military from what used to be Wheelus Air Base.

The air base was first used by American bombers in 1943. It served as a Strategic Air Command base and NATO training centre until 1970, a year after Khadafy took power.

The general theme of this weekend's event, and especially the speech, was simple: Muammar Qaddafi drove the Americans and NATO out. Now they're trying to come back to set up more bases and steal Libya's oil, and he's not going to let that happen. (13)

That may seem unrealistic given what's going on outside his capital, but Qaddafi seems to hear only his own song. He's just rebuffed an offer from Turkey to guarantee his safety if he gives up.

Cemetery American Infant and Adult Interments ("Kindergraves") 1958-1972, relocated 2007
Wheelus Air Force Base, Tripoli, Libya

"The Littlest Uaddans"

Air Force searches for kin of Americans buried at former base in Libya

by Scott Schonauer
Stars and Stripes, European Edition, May 19th, 2007

Kaiserslautern, Germany - The Air Force is looking for the families of 72 deceased Americans repatriated near a former American military base in Libya.

In a surprising display of how relations between the U.S. and Libya have warmed, American military cargo planes were allowed to land in the country last March to transport the remains to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

The American dead are believed to be family members of airmen once stationed at Wheelus Air Base, home to B-52 bombers from 1958 to 1972. The remains, some of them nearly fifty years old, include 70 infants and two adults.

Plans to reduce the size of the cemetery prompted the transfer. Air Force officials did not release information on the repatriation until now due to the State Department's concern over the fragile, yet improving relationship between the two countries.

The military has set up a hotline and has reached out to Wheelus High School alumni in hopes of tracking down family members. Air Force Mortuary Affairs officials declined to be interviewed for this story and would only answer questions by e-mail. The U.S. embassy in Tripoli did not return phone calls or e-mails.

"While some families have been located and notified, this is an enormous task considering the limited information that we have available to work with," the air Forces Mortuary Affairs office wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. "Since all of the cemetery records were handwritten with only limited information recorded, it will take some time to ensure we locate the next-of-kin."

Wheelus, which was located just east of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast, served as a U.S. Air Force base until Moammar Gadhafi ousted the king in 1969. The Italian military used to run the cemetery and offered free plots to Americans stationed at Wheelus when the Air Force used the base.

A team of three mortuary affairs specialists accompanied by a financial specialist spent two weeks in February recovering the remains with the help of locally contracted workers.

A C-130 transport plane assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing's 37th Airlift Squadron flew the dead to Ramstein Air Base, where they were transferred to a C-5 cargo plane and sent to Dover.

"The mission to recover U.S. remains from the cemetery in Libya was absolutely the right thing to do, and the 86th Airlift Wing was proud to have a role," Brig. Gen. Richard Johnston, the 86th commander, said in a written statement to Stars and Stripes. "The government of Libya was very helpful in facilitating this humanitarian effort, and we appreciate their cooperation which allowed the United States to make that happen."

The remains will remain at Dover Air Force Base until family members can be contacted. If the families cannot be contacted, the military will bury them at a federal or state cemetery near the air base, the Air Force said.

Relations between the U.S. and Libya have been confrontational for a span of nearly three decades up until several years ago.

The U.S. government restored diplomatic relations to Libya last year after the North African country renounced its support of terrorism and agreed to give up its weapons of mass destruction.

E-mail Scott Schonauer at

Randy Keel at the HQ Air Force Mortuary Affairs in San Antonio TX provided me the following information in August 2007:

I have attached a complete listing of remains repatriated from the Hammangi Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya in March of 2007.

Our office utilized multiple angles to locate and contact surviving next of kin including genealogical research, National Archives, Air Force Historical Research Agency Archives, Wheelus High School Alumni Association and the former Tripoli Residents Association.
Those remains claimed by surviving family members were processed by members of our staff, provided a specification casket, and interred according to the families instructions. A member of our staff and a uniformed Air Force member was present at each interment with the family's permission.

Those remains that were unclaimed or in which no surviving next-of-kin were located were processed by members of our staff, provided a specification casket, and provided a dignified interment with an ecumenical graveside service at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro, DE.

Of the original 72 remains recovered, 18 were claimed by family members.
Due to privacy concerns for those families, we would ask that you do not publicly post the fathers' names.

Although many years have passed, such a loss remains very sensitive to many of these families.

I have transcribed the names and dates of death from Randy Keel's original spreadsheet. Except where noted, burial was one to three days after death. For each burial, the spreadsheet also provides the father's name. Occasionally there was some additional information, such as the name of the officiating clergyman or the morgue technician. The original records are handwritten logs.

American Children Interred at the Italian Cemetery, Tripoli, Libya,from 1956-1966

Protestant Section #16 - ground burial

Talcott 6 Jan 1960
Matsuda, infant 1 Feb 1960
Batcelor, Benjamin Jr. [sic] 2 Feb 1960
Johnson, Richard Charles 15 Mar 1960
Lions, Albert 22 Jul 1960
Kiryakakis, Peter 30 Aug 1960
Judd, Edward Eugene 14 Sept 1960
Brandt, infant 4 Oct 1960
Richardson, Michael A. 7 Nov 1960
Sheekan H., Barbara 21 Nov 1960
Stiffler 17 Dec 1960
Dreker, James Robert 17 Dec 1960
Halfhill, James Donald 13 Mar 1961
Bowersox, Kimberly 24 Mar 1961
Nordsine, Barbara 3 April 1961
Hoslis, James David 2 May 1961
Wiese, Infant 12 June 1961
Dumas, Rodney 10 Jul 1961
English, Gina Maria 1 Nov 1961
Franklin, Patricia Jean 21 Nov 1961
De Graw, Yvonnia 22 Mar 1962
Pierce, Kathleen 25 Mar 1962
Hood, Linda 5 Apr 1962
Perkins, infant 11 April 1962
Gass, Jarred R. 29 Jul 1962
Glass, Frank 3 Dec 1962
Householder, Vicki 5 Mar 1963
Wright, Michele 11 Mar 1963
Butler, Mark Edward 2 Apr 1963
Baker 10 Apr 1963
Shelton 25 Apr 1963
Dean, Rodney Earl 5 June 1963
White, infant 5 June 1963
Pearsen, Evalyn 7 Jul 1963 (adult American)
Newlin, Gadios James 5 Aug 1963
Hathaway, infant 7 Aug 1963
Chewning, infant 30 Aug 1963
Griffin, infant 28 Nov 1963
Perry, Regina Adelle 10 Dec 1963
Bow, infant 13 Jul 1964
Miles, infant 26 Jan 1965
Alexander, infant 5 Apr 1965
Gibson, Stanly Gaylan 27 Apr 1965
Lochridge 24 May 1965
Farrell, Susan Teresa 9 Nov 1965
Woodall, Robert 14 Mar 1966
Lott 3 Sep 1966
Faragallah, Shawkat 16 Feb 1956
Coffee, Jo Lynn 3 Feb 1957
Calhouri, William Josef 15 Sept 1957
Klein, Diana Patricia 27 Jun 1958
Carmos, Gavin Vincent 13 Sept 1958
Thomson 11 Oct 1958
Marshall, John Edwards 14 Apr 1959
Marshall, Mary Margaret 13 Apr 1959

Catholic Section #6, ground burial

Arkheruis, Anne Evans 5 Jul 1959
Du Vernay 4 Jun 1958
Eckbauer, Carmen 29 Jan 1959
Du Fresne, Norman 7 Apr 1959
Leach, Kenneth L. 18 Jun 1961
Winkler 5 Jul 1961
Rogers, Billy W. 24 Jan 1962
Lockard 3 Jun 1962
Meador 2 Jul 1962
Manfred 10 Dec 1962
Raymond, Olivia 20 Feb 1963
Rupertt, Romeo 12 Mar 1963
Elbel, Hope 31 Sept 1964 [sic]
Simalton 12 Mar 1964
Kovacs, Teresa Marie 10 Mar 1964
White, Amy 26 Nov 1962, interment 11 Dec 1962

Mausoleum entombment, adult, probably in the Protestant section
Allen, Laura Kelsey born 25 Nov 1884, Somerville MA, died 20 Nov 1960
Bailey, Ellla M. born 16 Dec 1884 Houston TX, died 26 Aug 1953

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