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Navy Honors Killed, Injured in USS Cole Attack

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 – Navy officials, current and former crew members and families of the fallen gathered today at Norfolk Naval Station, Va., to remember the 17 sailors killed and 39 others wounded in the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole 10 years ago today.

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Military Sealift Command’s fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba tows the USS Cole from the port city of Aden, Yemen, Oct. 29, 2000, after a terrorist attack that caused the ship heavy damage and killed 17 sailors. U.S. Marine Corps photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Suicide bombers launched the surprise Oct. 12, 2000, attack 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 on May 17, 1987.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, the 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.”

During today’s ceremonies, Navy Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., commander of USS Fleet Command, saluted the Cole crewmembers’ 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 USS Cole crews.

After 14 months of upgrades and repairs following the attack, the USS Cole made an overseas deployment in November 2003. The ship later deployed to the Middle East in June 2006.

The USS 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.

As a ship’s bells rang 17 times during today’s ceremonies, the names of the fallen 17 sailors were read aloud:

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, a hull maintenance technician from Mechanicsville, Va.;

* Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, an electronics technician from Morrisville, Pa.;

*Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, a mess management specialist from Woodleaf, N.C.;

* Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, an information systems technician from Rice, Texas;

* Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, a signalman from Rex, Ga.;

* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, an engineman from Fond du Lac, Wis.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, an electronics warfare technician from Vero Beach, Fla.;

* Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.;

* Seaman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, an engine room fireman from Churchville, Md.;

* Seaman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, a fireman from Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.;

* Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, an electronic warfare technician from Portland, N.D.;

* Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, a mess management specialist from Kingsville, Texas.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, an operations specialist from Ringgold, Va.;

* Seaman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, a fireman from Rockport, Texas;

* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.; and

* Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe guided-missile destroyer USS Cole arrives in Naples, Italy, for a scheduled port call while deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility, Feb. 23, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Pittman  
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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

10/16/2010 10:59:03 AM
I was at work where there were several very large Televisions around the room as I worked for a very large energy company and the news was always on. I saw the attack as it happened and my heart just felt crushed as I knew how many of our brave young men and women would have been killed and maimed for life. I ran from the room to the ladies room. The tears streaming down my face. I will never, ever forget those who were on the Cole that day and I remember them and all of their families in my prayers daily. God bless all of you for keeping us safe. You were attacked by surprise. You were not in any way in the sea area to do harm to anyone. God is perfection and HE will see to it that you will be remembered always with love.
- Beverly Jane, U.S.A.

10/12/2010 8:50:59 PM
When this ship was attacked, I was in the Army stationed in Fort Hood Texas. I joined the Military Sealift Command almost a year ago. When I went to NJ for my training, I saw pictures of the damage the Cole suffered from the inside. Needless to say, I was deeply moved, even though I don't know anyone who served on that ship. However, I'm honored to say that not only did I get the chance to see that ship in real life, but I had the opportunity to help resupply the Cole during an UNREP in the Gulf of Aden. The "wound" the ship had suffered in 2000, you don't see anymore. I hope to see the Cole again so that I can take a picture of it in action. I served in the Army for 21 years, and I currently serve on the USNS Patuxent which is my first ship. I now understand why members of the U.S. Navy talk about the ships they serve on with such respect.
- Shawn McFadden, USNS Patuxent

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