US Navy holds remembrance of 2000 USS Cole terror attack

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Sailors of the USS Cole bow their heads during a benediction following a remembrance ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the attack on USS Cole at Naval Station Norfolk on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Jonathon Gruenke/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A ceremony has been held to honor the 17 sailors who died in the terrorist bombing attack on the USS Cole 20 years ago.

The Virginian-Pilot reports the ship’s bell tolled Monday morning for each sailor who died.

A sailor from the destroyer solemnly read aloud each victim’s name and hometown. The crew was lined up in dress blues on every deck and snapped a salute. A rifle squad fired a three-volley salute.

The remembrance was held at Naval Station Norfolk near Virginia’s coast. Old shipmates and families who lost loved ones gathered together. And they saw how the legacy of the Oct. 12, 2000, tragedy remains alive.

The ship’s current captain, Cmdr. Edward Pledger, told the families and old crew members that the 17 golden stars on the bulkhead by the ship’s mess line are kept polished and shining. He said they continue to inspire his own shipmates today.

The Cole was attacked by suicide bombers in an explosives-laden boat while refueling at the Yemeni port of Aden.

Retired Adm. Rob Natter recalled how isolated the Cole’s sailors were right after the attack and how they were unsure if another attack was coming.

But he said the Cole’s sailors answered the call of duty that day. And “after two backbreaking, sweltering weeks, they got Cole underway, sending a clear unmistakable message … she left with her battle ensign flying high and our national anthem blaring … everyone in and around Aden Harbor knew that Cole was coming back.”

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