Twenty years after dozens of sailors were killed and injured when terrorists blew themselves up in a suicide attack on the USS Cole, the Navy’s senior admiral is reminding those serving today of the sacrifices and heroism of those who were aboard the ship that day.
On Oct. 12, 2000, the Cole was at a routine fueling stop in Yemen’s Aden Harbor when al Qaeda-linked terrorists attacked the guided-missile destroyer. The blast killed 17 sailors and injured 37 while tearing a 40- by 60-foot hole in the ship’s hull. The crew fought to save their ship and shipmates, said Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations.
“Cole sailors courageously ran to the scene and rescued severely injured and trapped shipmates, saving them from further injury and probable death,” Adm. Gilday said in a statement released by the Navy. “It is important to recognize how these acts of bravery and heroism were nothing short of extraordinary.”
Faced with the possibility of further explosions, the Cole sailors worked around the clock for several days while plugging holes, shoring up the ship’s heavily damaged structure and securing any exposed electrical power sources, officials said.
“The example set by the Cole sailors is clear: a well-trained crew, even after a devastating blow, can rise to the occasion and save their ship,” Admiral Gilday said.
He directed a moment of silence Navy-wide on the 20th anniversary of the Cole in memory of its crew.
“When their country called, they answered and for that we are eternally grateful,” Adm. Gilday said. “Their actions epitomized our Navy’s fighting spirit, heroism, toughness, selfless sacrifice and tenacious resolve never to give up.”
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