NORTH VERNON PLAIN DEALER
VOLUME NO. 107 – NO. 1 – THREE SECTIONS
NORTH VERNON, INDIANA 47265
THURSDAY JUNE 15, 1967
JERRY LEE GOSS IS DECLARED DEAD FOLLOWING ATTACK ON USS LIBERTY
Last Friday, when the United States navy informed Mr. And Mrs. Harry Goss of North Vernon that their son, CT3 Jerry Goss was missing following a bombing and torpedoing of the USS LIBERTY by the Israeli armed forces, there yet remained hope that he would be found safe.
Then, on Sunday, June 11, a Naval Lt. Commander came to the Goss home to bring the saddest of news; “The Navy has information that Communication Technician Third Class Jerry Lee Goss has lost his life by drowning in a flooded compartment of the USS LIBERTY. There may, however, be a possibility that his body has been washed to sea. Final information will be available after the ship docks in Malta on June 13th. A following telegram promised that the ship’s commanding officer would send a full report when the naval inquiry has been completed.
And so, in the waters of a far distant land, because of a tragic accident of faulty recognition, in a war in which the United States is not engaged, a fine young man from Jennings county is lost to his grieving family and community.
Jerry, who had grown up in North Vernon, graduating from this high school in 1959, had earned the warm friendship of his townspeople and fellow students, as well as the respect of his teachers at school.
Charles Hurley, high school principal, said the he was not principal of the school when Jerry matriculated, but his exceptional record speaks for itself.
Hurley said that, at that time, the school had a rating of personality traits for the students, and Jerry has been given all “A’s” by his teachers in characteristics which included attitude, reliability, sociability, honesty, leadership, courtesy, and many others. “This,” said Hurley, “is an outstanding and really unusual record.”
Jerry was an “A” student in high school and always a boy who tried his very best.
On a self-inventory report made by the students, Hurley said Jerry showed himself as a very honest boy. He also noted Jerry’s wide range interests that included reading (historical and mystery preferred), music, and appreciation of music comedy as well as more serious interests.
Don Delkey, who then was football coach, remembered that Jerry came out for football during his sophomore year. He played the reserve squad and was respected by the coaches and players for his all out efforts for the team.
Roy Johnson, high school bandmaster when Jerry was in school said, “Anything I could say about Jerry would be in superlatives. He was a fine student and a fine band member. He was just a top boy.
A boy of many talents and many interests, Jerry was fond of music and began playing in the band at the fifth grade level. In high school, he played French horn in the band for four years. Other high school activities included Chorus, Latin club, Biology club, class play, Press club, Bugle staff, Medical Studies group, student librarian and vice president of the senior class.
Enrolling at Indiana University, Jerry participated in the Marching 100 band for three years, belonged to the band honorary fraternity and took part in the Little 500 Bike Race.
His studies at IU were directed toward a major in history and a minor in African studies and anthropology.
Four years ago, while working in a brokerage firm in California, he joined the Naval reserve, serving for two years.
In 1965, he enlisted for active duty and took training in communications at Pensacola, Florida. Then he was sent to the Philippines. During this time, he received a Dedicated Service plaque.
Last October, he began studying Portuguese at the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California. He returned home for a brief visit, following graduation, last April.
Reporting to Fort Meade, Maryland, he soon was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, and assigned to the USS LIBERTY.
Jerry sent his parents a card from Spain, and was enjoying his duty. Then, in a letter postmarked June 1, he told them of his great, good fortune in visiting Abidjan, capitol of the African Ivory Coast.
One excerpt from his letter exemplifies his sensitive nature and kindness and understanding of others. He told, that while others called the native section of the city dirty, he found it fascinating. He said, “they (other crewman) don’t have an eye for seeing what’s there, only for what’s not. I thought it was a very pleasant town.”
He then described the charming scenes of children being bathed in the streets, the colorful garb of the people and a bit of their lives.
Jerry was one who promptly responded when friends asked for help, and he was trusted. In the Philippines, for example, when the crew was paid, many boys asked Jerry to keep their money and take care of it for them.
A member of the First Baptist Church of North Vernon, Jerry was a religious boy. It was his pastor, Reverend A. E. Lacy, who suggested to Jerry’s parents that they call Congressman Lee Hamilton’s office. The latter was helpful to them. They also called the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., when they heard the ship was attacked and were awaiting word of their son’s safety.
Mr. and Mrs. Goss report that the Pentagon was most cooperative with them.
Jerry Lee Goss was a young man of whom his family and the entire county may well be proud. His high ideals and dedicated efforts for the task at hand may serve as an inspiration to those who remember him.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Marilyn Triplett of Bethesda, Maryland; Jane Goss of New Albany and Susan, at home. His brother, Joe, also at home…his maternal grandparents Mr. and Mrs. August Schmollinger, four aunts and a number of cousins.