USS Liberty Tree
May 1, 2004 this grand ole Cork Oak tree dedicated to honor all members of the Armed Forces. As a 50th commemoration of the Korean War 1950-1953, we honor the 5,720,000 Americans who served, the 33,651 killed in action, the 20,617 non-battle deaths, the 103,284 wounded and the 8,207 still listed as POW MIA's. We also honor Korean War veteran:
USN Captain William L. McGonagle and the "Brave Crew" of his ship - USS Liberty (AGTR-5).
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the Commanding Officer, USS Liberty (AGTR-5) in the Eastern Mediterranean on 8-9 June 1967. Sailing in international waters, the Liberty was attacked without warning by Israeli jet fighter aircraft and motor torpedo boats which inflicted 34 causalities and 172 crew members wounded. Although severely wounded during the first air attack, Captain (then Commander) McGonagle remained at his battle station on the badly damaged bridge and, with full knowledge of the seriousness of his wounds, subordinated his own welfare to the safety and survival of his crew.
Steadfastly refusing any treatment that would take him away from his post, he calmly continued to exercise firm command of his ship, despite continuous exposure to
He maneuvered his ship, directed its defense, supervised the control of flooding and fire, and saw to the care of the casualties.
Captain McGonagle's extraordinary valor under these conditions inspired surviving members of the Liberty's crew, many of them seriously injured,
to heroic efforts to overcome the battle damage and keep the ship afloat.
Subsequent to the attack, although in great pain and weak from loss of blood, Captain McGonagle remained at his battle station and continued to command his ship for more than seventeen hours. It was only after rendezvous with a United States destroyer that he relinquished personal control of the Liberty and permitted himself to be removed from the bridge. Even then he refused much needed medical attention until convinced that the seriously wounded among his crew had been treated. Captain McGonagle's superb professionalism, courageous fighting spirit and valiant leadership saved his ship and many lives. His actions sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Lyndon B. Johnson President of the United States in the name of Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to Captain William L. McGonagle, United States Navy.
This dedication is part of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the American Forest Historical Liberty Trees for America
Program. The dedication was approved by the Board of Directors of the Coachella Valley Historical Society, Carol Cook, Chairwoman of the Board.
Host - Bill Huntington Post 3699 Michael T. Pierson - Post Commander ~ Alleca M. Pierson - Auxiliary President
Liberty Tree Committee Members Honorary Chairwoman Jacquie Bethel, Mayor City of Indio John Wisman, Les O'Neil, Walter Geissler, Joe Benitez, Hugh Mason and surviving Liberty crew member Donald W. Pageler