WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy officials, current and former crew members and families of the fallen gathered Oct. 12 at Norfolk Naval Station, Va., to remember the 17 Sailors killed and 39 others wounded in the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67) 10 years ago today.
Suicide bombers launched a surprise attack Oct. 12, 2000,on the Arleigh Burke-class, Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyer as it was anchored in Aden, Yemen, for a routine refueling stop.
The attackers detonated an explosive-laden boat against the ship's port side, tearing a 40-by-40-foot hole in the hull and sending seawater gushing into the engineering compartment.
The attack was the deadliest assault against a U.S. naval vessel since the Iraqis attacked the USS Stark (FFG 31) May 17, 1987.
During the ceremony, Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, saluted the Cole crew members' quick response and valor as they fought to keep the ship afloat and tended to the wounded while defending against a feared follow-on attack.
Harvey said the attack underscores the importance of always being trained and prepared, and he praised the sense of vigilance that has been passed down to subsequent Cole crews.
After 14 months of upgrades and repairs following the attack, Cole made an overseas deployment in November 2003. The ship later deployed to the Middle East in June 2006.
Cole, which recently returned to its Norfolk homeport after a deployment that took it through the Gulf of Aden, shows no visible evidence of the deadly attack that occurred a decade ago. But below its decks are regular reminders, including a blackened U.S. flag that survived the attack and 17 gold stars that line the ship's "Hall of Heroes" passageway.
The ship's bells rang 17 times during the ceremony as the names of the fallen 17 Sailors were read aloud:
* Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, from Mechanicsville, Va.;
* Chief Electronics Technician Richard Costelow, 35, from Morrisville, Pa.;
*Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, from Woodleaf, N.C.;
* Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, from Rice, Texas;
* Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, from Rex, Ga.;
* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk;
* Engineman 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, from Fond du Lac, Wis.;
* Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, from Vero Beach, Fla.;
* Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego;
* Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, from Churchville, Md.;
* Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, from Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.;
* Electronic Warfare Technician 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, from Portland, N.D.;
* Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, from Kingsville, Texas.;
* Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, from Ringgold, Va.;
* Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, from Rockport, Texas;
* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.; and
* Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.
Retired Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, Cole's commander during the attack, recalled the impact of the blast.
"There was a thunderous explosion. You could feel all 505 feet and 8,400 tons of guided missile destroyer violently thrust up and to the right," Lippold said, during a recent radio interview. "Lights went out, and within a matter of seconds, I knew we'd been attacked."
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