October 12: The Anniversary of the USS Cole Bombing

 In Military

On the morning of October 12, 2000, 17 sailors were killed  and 38 more injured in the bombing of the USS Cole, a Navy Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer at Aden Harbor in Yemen. It was supposed to be a scheduled refueling, but turned out to be anything but routine. Today at 10:30 a.m., a ceremony was held at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to remember the loss of so many, and reflect on the determination of those who fought to save the ship.

The names of those who perished are:

31-year-old Lt. j.g. Andrew Triplett

35-year-old ETC Richard D. Costelow

30-year-old EW1 Kevin S. Rux

21-year-old HT2 Kenneth E. Clodfelter

24-year-old EN2 Mark I. Nieto

24-year-old EW2 Ronald S. Owens

32-year-old OS2 Timothy L. Saunders

22-year-old MS3 Ronchester M. Santiago

19-year-old MSSN Lakeina M. Francis

21-year-old ISSN Timothy L. Gauna

22-year-old SMSN Cherone L. Gunn

19-year-old ISSN James R. McDaniels

22-year-old SN Lakiba N. Palmer

19-year-old ENFN Joshua L. Parlett

19-year-old FN Patrick H. Roy

26-year-old FN Gary Swenchonis Jr.

19-year-old SN Craig B. Wibberley.

The USS Cole bombing

A small motorized dinghy filled with explosives pulled alongside the USS Cole and 2 suicide bombers detonated the explosives. The engine room, galley and living quarters were severely damaged in addition to the 40 foot hole in the starboard side of the ship. The crew fought for two weeks to get the ship repaired enough so it could go home. It was something Al-Qaeda didn’t reckon with – American determination and strength.

screenshot file

The USS Cole eventually returned to duty, and has been deployed again numerous times.

The Ceremony

Today, the ship’s bell tolled for every sailor lost that fateful day,  and a member of the current crew of the USS Cole read the names out loud.

The Virginian Pilot reported,

Cmdr. Edward Pledger, current captain of the Cole, told the families and members of the old crew that the 17 golden stars on the bulkhead by the ship’s mess line are kept polished and shining — and continue to inspire his own shipmates today.

“The story of USS Cole is one of remarkable heroism, exceptional toughness and fierce determination,” said Adm. Christopher Grady, currently commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, but in 2003, the captain who brought a rebuilt Cole back into active duty.

Some of his shipmates that year were sailors who lived through the attack — sailors who insisted on deploying again with the Cole.

He said the way the Cole’s sailors swung into action to rescue shipmates and save their ship should be a reminder: “a lesson that al-Qaeda missed: never underestimate our resolve.”

Al-Qaeda wouldn’t come onto the radar until 9-11-2001. Reported mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri has yet to face trial. He was charged with “perfidy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, terrorism, conspiracy, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, and hazarding a vessel,” according to the Miami Herald.

“Cole answered the call that day. They answered the call to general quarters. They answered the call to duty. And after two backbreaking, sweltering weeks, they got Cole underway, sending a clear unmistakable message … she left with her battle ensign flying high and our national anthem blaring … everyone in and around Aden Harbor knew that Cole was coming back. Amd Rob Natter

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Featured photo: Screenshot of USS Cole after bombing by wavy.com

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