October 7, 2010, - 3:46 pm

EXCLUSIVE 1sthand Account of Achille Lauro Hijacking from US Navy Corpsman

By Debbie Schlussel

On this 25th anniversary of the Palestinian Islamic terrorist hijacking of the Achille Lauro and murder of Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer, I thought you’d be interested to read a first-hand account by a then-member of the U.S. military who was on a different ship, following and monitoring the hijacking.  The man, Michael Vaughn, gave me permission to publish his account and his name, since he is now retired from the U.S. Navy.  It’s a very important historical account of an important event that, unfortunately, America has forgotten.  I urge you to read it:

I was reading your column on the 20th anniversary of the Achille Lauro hijacking and death of Leon Klinghoffer. It is now just a few months from October 8th, and I see scant mention of it these days.

Why am I interested? It is a simple answer. I was a crew member on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga that kept tabs on the cruise ship and monitored the movements of the hijackers. It was an incredible 10 days, and I’ll never forget it.

I was part of a detail called the At Sea Rescue and Assistance Detail. We were composed of ship repair, boat handling, mechanical, intelligence, medical (I was a Navy corpsman and am now retired), and an officer picked to negotiate with the ship’s commanding officer. We’d go to daily briefings on the hangar bay and were more than prepared to board the ship if need be.

To begin with, our planes could not fly, especially at night. We could not risk detection as we feared harm would come to the crew and passengers. It was bad enough Leon Klinghoffer was killed as that event set us on edge even more and yes we knew about it before the rest of the world. It was probably the worse piece of information we could have received and were prepared for the worse.

The news that the Achille Lauro ported at Port Said swung us into high gear. We found out that the hijackers had boarded an Egypt Air flight and were headed for home. The White House immediately issued orders to us, and that resulted in F-14, E-2C and EA-6B aircraft to be launched to intercept the plane that carried the hijackers. They eventually forced the Egypt Air to land at NAS Sigonella where the hijackers were captured and held.

Unfortunately the Italian authorities made the whole thing a mockery. However, one of the nicer things that happened was we as the crew of the USS Saratoga became famous, more famous than we could have imagined. We pulled into more ports than we planned and had to refuse most interviews. We could not give any information, but imagine having more press than Madonna, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Boy George or David Lee Roth. For a bunch of sailors and Marines just trying to do our jobs it got a little overwhelming, but interesting.

It took us another few months for us to finish our cruise as we were called to wage war on Khaddafi’s Libya. We got extended some three times for an additional two and half months at sea. Yes we were tired but it was worth it to see so much accomplished.

President Reagan gave us a congratulatory phone call and met with Klinghoffer’s widow. And when we returned to our home port for a delayed homecoming to a lot of press coverage and even more interviews by both national and international press.

I doubt the Achille Lauro will be mentioned this year for the 25th anniversary. Maybe Fox News will give a mention, but i guarantee that somehow Obama will do or say something.


During that time we were tailing the Achille Lauro, life was not what you could consider ‘normal’. We did not conduct flight ops, especially at night. For two weeks we could not dump trash and after awhile the passageways started to become a smelly mess. No one could leave the ship to go out on the flight deck at night, and every light on the outside of the ship was turned off.

I was a part of a detail called the at-sea rescue and assistance detail. My division had another man who was an E-3 on it. I was added because I was older, was an E-4 and had a secret security clearance, which was extremely important given the sensitive nature of the mission. If I remember correctly we had meetings every day on the hangar bay to discuss what in any information we needed to know. We had an electrician, hull repair, ordnance. communications, boatswain and I was the corpsman, along with a Lt. who was our leader. If anything sudden and dramatic would have happened, it was up to us to take action and restore order.

All I want is for the Klinghoffer family to somehow get some justice. It is my understanding that two or three of the Abbas gang are at large somewhere out there. Maybe they’re using the notoriety of the Achille Lauro hijacking for some self-promotion. Just wish some of these foreign governments had the gonads to pursue and destroy them.

No word from any media outlets on this, either. I saw some websites that mention the hijacking. One from Special Forces, one with a Palestinian slant and one from the Israeli side. Still a lot of info missing. Hope someday things get straight.

I did a little bit of online research and discovered that 3 have not been fully accounted for. Ahmad Marrouf al-Assadi, Youssef Majed al-Molqi and Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif are out there somewhere. There have been some attempts of international criminal justice to punish them. But who knows? It remains to be seen what will ultimately happen.

To use Michael Vaughn’s words, I, too, just wish some of these foreign governments had the gonads to pursue and destroy the surviving hijackers. But as I noted earlier today and previously on this site, Italy released two of the hijacker/murderers to freedom. And America gives shelter to an Islamic terrorist connected with the Achille Lauro hijacking.

Yup, sadly, our will to fight the Islamic threat has been largely castrated.

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12 Responses


But I express my gratitude to those sailors and airmen. The job they do is often a thankless one. We owe them all a debt.

And I have to say thank you to Michael Vaughn for sharing his story on the Achille Lauro hijacking with us. Its been a moving and very inspirational one.

We need more men like him in this world.

NormanF on October 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Another excellent post, Debbie.

Also thank you, Michael Vaughn, for allowing Debbie to publish your acount of what happened in the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, including the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.

JeffE on October 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Can someone elaborage on who this person he references is and his connection to hijacking? Thanks.

“And America gives shelter to an Islamic terrorist connected with the Achille Lauro hijacking.”

Paul on October 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

As I know you Muslim researchers from CAIR read this site. Here is a challenge to any Muslim cleric or spokesperson in America to face me head on in a televised challenge as I simply plan to show the American public the TRUTH about the Cancer of Islam…….so read on!

Oliver Wendell Holmes the Supreme Court Justice pointed out that “Shouting fire in a crowded theater” would not be afforded “freedom of speech” under the First Amendment. So….why should we grant you treasonous Muslim clerics First Amendment protection when you are sowing the seeds of the destruction of our Constitution, our culture, our flag, our Judeau-Christian heritage and way of life?

We the people have had a gut full of the media and its insipid pandering to you loud mouth, arrogant, lying swine who are a treasonous fifth column in our midst.

To all the leaders in Washington it’s time you opened the Quran & Hadith for yourself and realized this political system disguised as a religion is from the pit of hell. It’s “ROLE MODEL” Muhammad was a rapist, terrorist, murderer, pedophile and lying deceiver….and that’s just his good points.

To all of you politicians who will not stand up NOW, start looking for another job.

If any Muslim cleric wants to shoot his mouth off about Sharia replacing the U.S. Constitution, it’s time to apply the U.S. Federal law and charge them with sedition or treason.

We have laws in place NOW such as The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act of 1940 which enables us to slam into prison any of these creeps who preach or teach sedition.


This mealy mouthed President claims we are a country of laws but bypasses, bends and manipulates the law at every opportunity.

To you politicians and liberal media traitors to our nation, let me give you a couple of simple facts about Islam the “Religion of Peace.”

Islamic belief has the world divided into two camps; Dar Al Islam (the house of Islam) and Dar Al Harb (the house of war).

Here’s a little sample from the Quran.

Qur’an:9:5 “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”

They believe that their God given mandate is to bring the entire world into submission to Allah.

Quran 8:39 “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.”

This is a religion based on hate that will not hesitate to kill billions of people to achieve their goals.

Every time they create a contentious issue such as the Ground Zero Mosque project they are really following a military tactic of testing the enemies resolve. Has anyone asked the question why did they originally call the ground zero mosque Cordoba House? DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ABOUT THE MARTYRS OF CORDOBA WHO WERE BEHEADED WHEN THEY REFUSED TO SUBMIT TO ISLAM.

Pamela Geller and many others are showing the world it’s time to stand up NOW. We must draw a line in the sand. This Mosque must not go up. We must elect politicians who have the backbone to stand up and defeat EVERY strategy of Islam.

After 9/11 we had a parade or charade of Muslim leaders trying to convince the American public that Islam means “peace.” We also had Imam Rauf giving Muslim sensitivity training to the FBI.

What a joke. Perhaps the SENSITIVE and so humble Imam Rauf could enlighten us on the following verse from the Quran.

Qur’an 8:12 “Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”

Wake up America. Stop Muslim immigration RIGHT NOW or be prepared to see America destroyed.
Every freedom loving American must rise up now and take on Islam and to use a verse from the Quran we must use “every stratagem of war.”

Imam Rauf you have a soft ride with CNN but I am prepared to take you on in a public debate and I will only quote the Quran or the Hadith. WHAT DO YOU SAY “BUBBA” LET’S GET IT ON!!!!!

John Kelly on October 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

Many eons ago I worked for the government. A Gentleman whom I met during this time was involved with intelligence work at the highest levels. He was part of what was known at the time as BLUELIGHT he descibed the chaos of the incident as he was part of the quick response team sent over he to did not like the ending he arrived in Italy to take control of the terrorists and the Italy police/army tries to grab them (Italy having a rather strange government) and our people leveled their weapons on them until word came down to let a Italian judge make the decision (which was a mistake made once). I salute all service personnal that served (by the way the reason was several fold for lights out 1. did not want plo (which were the real people on the AL although for this operation called something else for denibility to target assests 2 when launched not to be able to identify type of aircraft loosed. Obama of course is embarassed that we actually did something (PAX Americana) and probably has to apologise to his Muslim brethern. JMG

Jonathan Gartner on October 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

Hey John Kelley – Doesn’t the bible and torah Say the same things? Last time I checked we Christians did the exact same thing to the native Americans -just saying every religion really says the same things (kill for us and you go to heaven) – my opinion is to force the Jews and palestinians into a peaceful 2 states with a UN/NATO force between them – then and only then can the rest of the world finally rest from this headache.

Jason Hains on October 8, 2010 at 11:21 am

    There he goes with the old faux equivalency fallacy.

    What’s been happening in the world over the past 1,400 years in regards to islam has of course nothing to do with “Christians” and what they may or may not have done to “native Americans”. Regardless of what was done with native Americans (which of course my immigrant family had absolutely NOTHING to do with, nor did they have anything to do with slavery), the issue at hand is regarding islam, and what it is doing all over the world at this very moment.

    Are you aware that over 16,000 terrorist attacks have been carried out SINCE 9/11/2001, murdering and maiming tens of thousands of people, in the name of islam? Mostly muslims murdering other muslims, too. Did you know that besides 9/11/2001, over 200 U.S. citizens have been murdered right here in the USA in over 60 terrorist attacks perpetrated by muslims?

    Can you name a single instance in the last 100 years when someone, acting purposely in the name of Christianity or Judaism, murdered a random group of people via shooting, knifing, bombing, or running over with construction vehicles? No, you can’t. You can find a few cases where TRUE PSYCHOS have murdered people in the name of a non-muslim religion (i.e. Baruch Goldstein shooting a bunch of muslims at the JEWISH holy Cave of Machpelah, in the city of Hebron- denounced around the world by Orthodox Jews as a nut, and of course the nuts who have attacked abortion clinics). But with islam, you have MILLIONS of people calling (and acting) for BOTH OF OUR DEATHS (assuming you are not a muslim) simply for being born non-muslim.

    Your astounding lack of knowledge at what the Torah actually says is of course not the least bit surprising, as even people who call themselves “religious” or “observant” Christians/Jews often have no idea what the book actually says. The Torah says NOTHING about “dominating the world” or “killing non-believers”. What it DOES say is that the Children of Israel (descendants of Jacob/people now called “Jews”) “shall be a light unto the world” and “a nation of Priests”. We (Jews) are supposed to live a life that others will observe and want to emulate…i.e. a life of peace and goodness, which for the most part, many in the world do indeed emulate. Judaism is not a missionary religion, we do not proselytize and try to convert others. And we don’t condemn them to hell for not accepting our particular beliefs. In fact, Judaism teaches that the Messiah will come for the benefit of the entire world, not a select few.

    Please don’t waste time posting inane comments on this site until you have read the koran and hadiths yourself. And tell us about any project that the UN is involved in that actually works. India/Pakistan anyone?

    Doda McCheesle on October 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

      Wow….awesome comments and you have saved me the trouble of replying. Thanks.

      By the way, great comment about the U.N.

      John Kelly on October 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      To Doda McCheesle

      Wow….awesome comments and you have saved me the trouble of replying. Thanks.

      By the way, great comment about the U.N.

      John Kelly on October 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Hey Jason Haines or is that Mohammad Haines

    You remind me of a Harvard Attorney I know who said “A spasmodic movement of the optic is as adequate as a slight inclination of the cranium to an equine quadruped devoid of visionary capacity.”

    In other words: “A wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse.”

    Congratulations Bubba (or Mohammad) you just wrote about 65 words to say absolutely nothing.

    I can only conclude, either:

    a. You just love the sound of your own voice and if someone asks you for the time, you tell them how a watch is made.

    b. You see yourself as the next Mark Twain…..in which case, don’t give up your day time job.


    c. You are a Muslim apologist trying to blind us with a bit of pro Muslim deception.

    If “c” is correct as I suspect. I’m sure you would suggest a U.N. force of Egyptian, Syrian and Saudi soldiers would be the ideal peace keeping force on the Israel/ Gaza border.

    Good try Mohammad. Why don’t you go and have a pork sandwich and stop wasting my time.

    If you want to make a real challenge, bring it on!

    John Kelly on October 8, 2010 at 2:40 pm


George W. on October 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The Marines have their “few good men,” Navy Corpsmen.
A prayer for the Klinghoffer’s.

Poor Pal Muzzies…STILL the bastard children of the OIC. *sniff* Hagar is a concubine.

Sick_Boy on October 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm

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