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.
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.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)