GREAT LAKES, Ill (NNS) -- 15 years ago a bomb gashed the port side of the USS Cole as it moored in the Aden harbor off the coast of Yemin. That bombing was the deadliest attack on an American ship in more than a decade killing 17 Sailors and injuring 39 more.
On Oct. 9, 15 years after the attack, Sailors from Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes gathered inside the barracks named in honor of that ship to commemorate the day when terrorists attacked the American guided-missile destroyer.
"Regardless of rank, each Sailor in the Navy becomes part of our family," said Electronics Technician Chief (SW) Kevin Mikulka, a Navy Military Training Instructor (NMTI), TSC. "We lost 17 members of our family who lost their lives in these attacks."
The keynote speaker for the commemoration was retired Master Chief Electronics Technician Pam Jacobsen who was on board the USS Cole when it was attacked. She told the crowd about her experiences that day and why they were able to save the ship and prevent more Sailors from dying.
"There weren't any alarms, people just knew where to go," said Jacobsen. "People knew where to go because we had trained and we had trained and we had trained.
"Our training kicked in and it's what kept our crew from panicking."
Jacobsen currently serves as an instructor with the Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU) Great Lakes.
During the ceremony, Chief Navy Counselor Laniya Allen, NMTI, TSC, read the names of each of the 17 Sailors who died in the attack as a wreath was brought to the front of the assembled crowd. With each name that was read two bells were rung to signify the end of the watch for these Sailors.
"In the spirit of our remembrance, we can also celebrate and embrace the dedication of all those who choose a life on earth of consequence," said Jacobsen.
Each year, Sailors gather to honor the memory of their shipmates and to renew their commitment to protecting their fellow Sailors.
"My heart will forever be broken at the loss of my 17 shipmates," Jacobsen said.
For more news from Training Support Center, Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/tscgl/.