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USS Cole Honors their Heroes

13 October 2022

From Lt.j.g. David Yi, USS Cole Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK - The guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) crew, past, and present, gathered alongside guests and families of the Cole heroes on Oct. 12, to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the ship's bombing.

More than 30 Gold Star family members attended the ceremony held at the USS Cole Memorial aboard Naval Station Norfolk. The remembrance ceremony honored the 17 shipmates who perished in the attack, forever to be remembered as Cole heroes, who set the standard for the “Determined Warrior” culture the Cole crew strives daily to maintain. 
“Today our military seeks ways to create tougher, more resilient Sailors,” said Cmdr. James V. Welsch, Cole commanding officer, in addressing ceremony guests. “The Determined Warriors of the past 22 years have been privileged to have a daily reminder of what toughness and resiliency looks like and the connectedness of our crew and connections to our past is what makes Cole different.”
During the ceremony, a wreath was again laid for the fallen heroes. Another 21-gun salute pierced the silence along the waterfront. A lone bugler offered taps. But, appropriately, the 22nd such ceremony had at its core again a tolling of the bell and a reading of the names of the 17 heroes whose lives were lost that fateful day.
“The memory of our fallen shipmates will continue to make Cole special, tougher than all the rest,” concluded Welsch. “When we confront future challenges, we will draw on our strong legacy and the toughness of our Cole heroes to win the day.”

Deployed to the Middle East in 2000, Cole stopped to refuel in the port of Aden, Yemen. At 11:18 a.m., a small boat came alongside the ship. Suddenly, a highly explosive bomb detonated alongside Cole. The explosion blew a massive 40-by-60 foot hole on the port side of the ship, taking the lives of 17 Sailors and injuring 39 others. Cole Sailors courageously fought fires and flooding for the following 96 hours. Their actions prevented further loss of lives and kept the ship afloat.
In commemoration, the Cole Memorial includes 17 low-level markers that stand for the youthfulness of the Sailors, whose lives were lost. Three tall granite monoliths – each bearing brass plaques – stand for the three colors of the American flag. A set of brown markers encircling the memorial symbolizes the darkness and despair that overcame the ship on Oct. 12, 2000. Additionally, 28 black pine trees were planted nearby to represent the 17 Sailors and the 11 children the heroes left behind.


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