HOMESTEAD, Fl. - PO3 Johan Gokool survived one of the worst terrorist attacksagainst the United States. He was aboard the USS Cole in October2000 when Al-Qaeda operatives detonated a bomb as the Norfolk-basedship sat in the Port of Aden in Yemen.
Gokool lost 17 shipmates that day. His own injuries weresevering: doctors amputated one of his legs.
Now, more than 9 years after that deadly day, Gokool too is afallen hero. A published report points to a panic attack associatedwith post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the cause ofdeath.
Gokool had been looking forward to finishing college accordingto John Clodfelter, of Mechanicsville, who lost his son in the Coleattack.
Reached by phone Sunday, Clodfelter recalled speaking withGokool several months ago.
"It's just unbelievable," he said, "he was such a young guy andeven after having lost half of one of his legs, you know, he wasvery upbeat about things and wanting to go to college to go aheadand finish his career."
In June, volunteers treated Gokool to a home makeover, helpingpaint his Florida home. They also installed grab bars and severalsmall ramps around the property.
An interview with Gokool from that day highlighted his humility."I'm so glad to be rewarded by such great people. I'm glad to seethere are people in the world that like to do things forothers."
He too was one of those people -- serving many by serving hisnation.
A hero until the end.
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