Terror Salvo: USS COLE
In August 2000, the USS COLE (DDG-67) guided missile destroyer departed Naval Station - Norfolk in southeastern Virginia for a five-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf. After transit through the Suez Canal, it moored on a floating refueling platform in Yemen's Aden Harbor (near the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula).
Approximately two hours after arriving in the harbor, a small inflatable craft laden with more than 500-lb. (200kg) of C-4 military-grade plastic explosives made its way to the "dolphin" where COLE was refueling. Watchstanders mistook the boat for one of the many harbor craft routinely seen in the area. At 11:18am local time (08:18 GMT) on Thursday, October 12th, 2000, the two suicide bombers on the inflatable craft detonated their shaped charge alongside the port hull near COLE's galley, tearing a 10m-wide hole at the waterline. 39 sailors were wounded, while 17 gave the "last full measure of devotion" in service to our nation.
The seventeen sailors who lost their lives in this attack:
- Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter
- Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer First Class Richard Costelow
- Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis
- Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna
- Signalman Seaman Apprentice Cheron Louis Gunn
- Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels
- Engineman Second Class Mark Ian Nieto
- Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott Owens
- Seaman Apprentice Lakiba Nicole Palmer
- Engine Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett
- Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy
- Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux
- Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Managan Santiago
- Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders
- Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, Jr.
- Ensign Andrew Triplett
- Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley
This attack was ultimately traced to al-Qa'ida, in their escalating war against the United States and the forces of freedom and egalitarianism -- a war that was sown in the mountains of Afghanistan during the insurgency against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and began in earnest in America with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.