The House has passed a bill that includes an amendment authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, MI-08, and Frank LoBiondo, NJ-02, that would require the Department of Defense to return to the United States 13 Navy commandos buried in mass graves in Tripoli, Libya since 1804.
The amendment -- which would repatriate, identify and honor the sailors with a military funeral -- was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. Rogers and LoBiondo had introduced their own bill on it, H.R. 1497.
"The United States has an obligation to leave no member of our military behind, regardless of how long ago they were killed," said Rogers, an Army veteran. "Bringing the remains of those brave members of our military home and giving them a proper military funeral will finally end a tragic story that has lasted far too long."
In September of 1804, the 13 American Sailors were killed in the explosion of the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor.
The Navy's first commandos -- precursors to today's Navy Seals -- were on a mission to destroy Tripoli's naval fleet during the First Barbary War. When their bodies washed ashore on the beach in Tripoli, they were fed to a pack of dogs as American prisoners of war looked on and then dumped into two mass graves.
Both are in terrible disrepair, and one is about to wash out to sea. One of the mass graves is located near the Tripoli plaza where Muammar Gaddafi has held his anti-American protests for decades.
Rogers joined the effort to bring the remains of the Navy commandos back to the United States for a proper burial after visiting the grave sites in 2004.
"The way that they were treated after dying in service to their country is inexcusable," LoBiondo said. "They deserve to be buried with dignity by their families on their own home soil, especially after sacrificing so much for their country."
Editor's note: No action would be taken until after the military activity in Libya ends.