November 4, 1942 – June 8, 1967
Ronnie pictured with his wife, Eileen, and son, Ricky
Eulogy by his daughter Deborah:
Who was Ronnie Campbell? That is what my Uncle Mike told me to find out. “Just the basic information”, he said. His date of birth, where he grew up, his parents’ names, etc. Sounds like an easy enough task, doesn’t it? After all, this was the man that brought me life. But, that question, “Who was Ronnie Campbell?,” has always been a mystery to me. I never had the opportunity to know this man, never gazed up into his kind loving eyes, never heard the gentleness of his voice as he told me he loved me, and never felt the warmth of his arms as he held me. Sometimes we are dealt a hand of cards that we will never understand. I was born 5 1/2 months after my father was killed on the USS Liberty. I am now 36 years old and just beginning to find out what happened on that day in June of 1967. I am very saddened and disturbed by what I’ve read so far. Instead of bringing answers for me, my search has only brought more questions.
I’ve only heard bits and pieces about my father throughout my life. I’ve heard he was a very gentle and caring man–one that would open his home to anyone who needed a warm place to stay. I’ve heard he loved God and lived his life in a way that showed that. He had a great imagination, and as he was growing up my Granny (his mom) would see him outside, by himself, for hours on end, playing cowboys and Indians, having a grand ol time. I’ve met some of those who knew him growing up, and to this day they are still overtaken by sorrow as they try to talk to me about him. He was a good-looking man, and from what I’ve heard had no problems in the dating department during his school days.
I don’t know how he and my mom met–she doesn’t talk much about him. I imagine it brings up a lot of pain for her. But, from what I understand, they were very much in love. My brother was born in Scotland in 1964. He is the spittin’ image of my father! He doesn’t remember much, if anything, about him either, as he was just short of 3 when Ronnie was killed. I can’t imagine the grief, fear and anger my mom must have had as a young widowed mother with a baby on the way in 1967. So many lives were turned upside down that day. Thirty-four families ripped apart and countless others shaken to their core.
One day, when my life on this earth is done, I will meet this man who has been such a mystery to me. I have so much to tell him about my life. So much he missed out on. So much we missed out on.
Thank you for this opportunity to pay tribute to my father.
Deborah Casswell (Campbell)
January 21, 2004
Today, Ronnie Campbell would have celebrated his 77th birthday with his family and friends. His was killed at the age of 25.