16 years later, USS Cole sailors remembered

13News Now Mike Gooding was there

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Sixteen years ago, tragedy struck, as terrorists attacked the Norfolk based Navy destroyer USS Cole. Seventeen sailors were killed.

Today, at Naval Station Norfolk, family members, shipmates and current-day personnel paused, to remember.

The ceremonial ship's bell was tolled.  The names were read. The flowers were laid. And, "Taps" was played.

Once again, October 12th had come.

And, the USS Cole's fallen seventeen sailors were remembered. Shipmates can never forget.

"I still remember them," said Anthony Vancampen. " I still wake up at bight trying to keep Chief Costello from going down to the chief's mess. And my wife hugs me and calms me back down. I don't think that's ever going to end."

This day is always all about those who were lost in the terrorist  attack off the coast of Yemen. The years haven't made it any easier for family members.

"I really didn't want to come at first this year because it's so hard but i had to come to honor my son," said Diane McDaniels, mother of fallen Cole sailor James McDaniels. "But I didn't want to because this year is harder than last year."

Meanwhile, the criminal prosecution drags on, with the accused mastermind Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, still un-tried, still un-convicted, sitting in a cell in Guantanamo, 16 years long years later.

"I don't understand how this incident happened in the first place," said Mona Gunn, mother of fallen Cole sailor Cheronne Gunn. "We were at peace time, not war, in international waters. And a huge attack like that took more than just that one man."

Frederica Phoenix, sister of James McDaniels doesn't focus on al Nashiri's fate. "You just have to let it go because it will literally drive you crazy," she said. "At the end of the day, God has the final say. So he may not have to pay here on Earth. He will definitely have to pay when he leaves Earth."

As for the actual ship itself, long since repaired, the USS Cole is currently conducting routine training and certification operations in preparation for an upcoming deployment with the George H.W. Bush Strike Group.     Crew members held a memorial service on board the ship today.


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