USS Cole victims remembered 18 years after attack


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 18 years ago today, terrorists attacked the Norfolk-based USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors.

Bells tolled at Naval Station Norfolk during a special ceremony Friday morning in honor of the lost.

It’s more than a tradition for victims’ families.

“When you come around other mothers, other fathers who’ve walked this journey it brings
a level of comfort to you.” Mona Gunn told

She lost her son Cherone. The Virginia Beach man was just 22 years old.

“Every day I think about him and what he would be doing,” she said.

Sandra Francis believes her daughter Lakeina Francis would be an FBI or CIA agent by now.

“She wanted to go into law enforcement, so that’s probably what she would be doing.”

The two mothers regret that their children were robbed of the chance to have children of their own, unlike Diane McDaniels.  Her son’s fiance was pregnant when terrorists attacked the USS Cole. The child is now just about the same age his father was when he died.

“That brings a lot of happiness to me. A lot of people tell me I’m lucky to have a part of him,” McDaniels said.

James McDaniels’ legacy lives on, as do the memories of all 17 sailors.

39 other sailors were injured in the blast. Many of them were also at the ceremony. The victims’ families also share a bond with them and empathize with the pain they still suffer, either physically and/or emotionally after what they went through on October 12, 2000.

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