U.S. Embassy Team in Oman Recognized For Cole Support
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
MUSCAT, Oman, Nov. 21, 2000 Nine U.S. military members working in the Omani embassy were recognized today for their efforts in providing support for over 200 service members evacuated from the USS Cole after the Oct. 12 bombing.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen praised the group for their superlative work. He then presented the Joint Service Meritorious Commendation Award to Army Col. Rodger Oetjen, chief of the Office for Military Coordination in Oman.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Connolly (from left), Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Alonzo Woolery, Air Force Master Sgt. William Holland, Navy Chief Petty Officer Mark Shafer, Air Force Capt. Jeffery Moody, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Marine Corps Maj. Stephen Gorzynski, Army Lt. Col. Robert Felkel, Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Brooks, and Army Col. Rodger Oetjen pose for the camera Nov. 17 in Oman.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Cohen then presented Joint Service Achievement Awards to Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Brooks, Army Lt. Col. Robert Felkel, Marine Corps Maj. Stephen Gorzynski, Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Moody, Navy Chief Petty Officer Mark Shafer, Air Force Master Sgt. William Holland, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Alonzo Woolery and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Connolly.
The award citation noted that the Americans and their Omani embassy counterparts worked to “expedite the safe evacuation of sailors from the USS Cole following the terrorist incident that disabled their ship.”
The team worked with Omani officials, especially the Royal Air Force of Oman, to plan and execute the reception and transfer of 219 [Cole] sailors from the USS Tarawa Amphibious Readiness Group to Thumrait Air Base in Oman, for movement to the United States, according to the citation.
The citation said the team’s efforts “ensured the operation met every critical mission requirement [to include:] secrecy, enhanced force protection, expedited and seamless logistical support, unrestricted access to Omani facilities and airspace, and maximum flexibility.”