TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan that memorializes the United States Secretary of State to open negotiations with Libya for the repatriation of the remains of Richard Somers and his 12-member crew was approved today by the Senate.
In 1804, Richard Somers, a native of Somers Point, New Jersey, and commander of the U.S.S. Intrepid during the First Barbary War, died a hero’s death along with his crew during a daring nighttime raid against the enemy in Tripoli harbor, Libya. Somers was commanding a fire boat to recapture or destroy the U.S.S. Philadelphia, which had been captured by Barbary pirates off the Tripoli harbor, so that the frigate would not be used by the enemy against the U.S. Navy ships.
“Part of the American Soldier’s Creed is ’I will never leave a fallen comrade,’” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “Bringing Richard Somers home to Somers Point, where he belongs, is the right thing to do for a hero that lost his life in the line of duty.”
Richard Somers was the great-grandson of John Somers, the founder of Somers Point, New Jersey.
Although Richard Somers has been memorialized by the United States Navy, with at least six naval warships bearing his name and a monument standing at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the remains of Richard Somers and his crew are buried in graves now overgrown and poorly maintained in an old cemetery in Tripoli, Libya. The fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 brought renewed hope that Richard Somers’ remains would be repatriated in Somers Point, where he is commemorated every year on the day of his courageous death.
The resolution, SR-95, was approved by the Senate. Copies of the resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, will be transmitted by the Secretary of the Senate to the United States Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Navy, the United States Ambassador to Libya, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of Mission of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the Governor of the State of New Jersey, the Mayor of the City of Somers Point, and each member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.