NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It was a somber anniversary for the U.S. Navy here in Hampton Roads Tuesday.
21 years ago, terrorists bombed the USS Cole as it refueled in Yemen.
The blast from the Al-Qaeda suicide bombers ripped a 40-foot hole in the side of the guided-missile destroyer. The attack killed 17 sailors and hurt 39 others.
The Cole was repaired, returned to the seas in 2003 and remains in service to this day.
On Tuesday, the Navy held a commemoration ceremony at the Cole Memorial at Naval Station Norfolk. A pre-recorded video made by the Cole crew in advance was shown at the memorial site in front of Gold Star families, friends, and former Cole sailors.
The video was pre-recorded because the ship and crew of the Cole were unavailable on the day of the anniversary. The tribute included traditional Cole commemoration elements, including a benediction, ceremonial reading of the names and tolling of the bell for each of the Cole heroes who died in the attack, along with a 21-gun salute and taps.
Cmdr. Vincent Libasci III, the Cole commanding officer, said he was proud to respect the legacy of the Cole’s fallen “by serving aboard the ship and helping to maintain its warfighting readiness,” Naval Surface Force, Atlantic said in a news release Tuesday.
“There is no better way to honor the lives of the shipmates we lost and the heroes who saved the ship during those sweltering days in October 2000 than by continuing Cole’s mission at sea, contributing to security and freedom around the world, as our heroes laid down their lives to do,” he said.
“They are the perfect examples of duty, courage, and sacrifice, inspiring us each and every day. We shall never forget them,” he said.
BELOW: Watch the full ceremony. (Video courtesy: U.S. Navy)