NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Friends, family and current and former crew members of USS Cole gathered at Naval Station Norfolk Wednesday to remember the attack on the guided missile destroyer 22 years ago.

The Cole deployed in August of 2000 from Naval Station Norfolk. The guided-missile destroyer was in the Middle East to refuel.

On October 12, 2002, a trash barge picked up trash early in the day from the ship. A crewmember told 10 On Your Side another trash barge was set to come later that day.

Around lunchtime, a small vessel pulled on the ship’s ports side and disguised itself as a trash barge. Onboard the small vessel was an improvised explosive device.

Members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda set off the explosive device.

“I put my tray down and this loud explosion rocked the ship,” Kristen Wheeler, USS Cole crewmember, said.

The attack claimed the lives of 17 USS Cole sailors. Another 37 crew members were injured.

The explosion left a massive hole in the ship and the crew fought for 96 hours to save the ship.

A wreath was placed by the USS Cole Memorial Wednesday. The wealth honored the 17 sailors who gave their lives as heroes.

A bell rang and a USS Cole sailor read off one of the 17 names. Each time, the commanding officer took a step with the wreath and they made a complete circle around the memorial.

one of the sailors killed in the attack was 22-year-old Cherone Louis Gunn. He was a signalman seaman and was following in his dad’s footsteps by joining the Navy.

He was fresh out of boot camp and got orders to the USS Cole. His mom, Mona Gunn, was excited about her son’s enlistment. She lived in Virginia Beach at the time and the new orders meant her son was in Norfolk.

“He was happy to be coming back home,” she said.

In August, the Cole set out on a deployment.

“He was very excited about going. He took the time to visit all family members,” Gunn said. “He said ‘are you going to miss me? I said ‘sure, you will be back.'”

Cherone Gunn never returned.

Gunn said the remembrance ceremony means a lot to her because she gets to hear the stories about her son.

“We have to tell their stories,” she said. “He was happy-go-lucky. People would be sad and unhappy, and he would bring smiles to the room. He would come into the room with the biggest smile on his face. Telling their story means a lot to me.”

Kristen Wheeler was aboard the USS Cole that day. She was on her first deployment as a Third Class Sonar Technician.

She was working in the galley at the time and was able to work with Cherone.

“He was full of life and joy and laughter,” Wheeler said.

She said he was the star of the show on karaoke night.

“He got up and sang. He rocked it. He brought the vibe,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler and her former coworkers remember their determined warrior shipmates.

“Always be a determined warrior. Fight for your shipmates. Fight for yourself. Fight for your ship,” she said.

Wheeler said it also gave her a chance to see the current sailors aboard the Cole.

“It really meant something to watch the young sailors get up and say each person’s name. Those were us. We were their age at one time. Now, the torch has been passed,” she said.

The USS Cole was repaired, returned to the Navy fleet and is now in the yard getting upgraded to prepare for Operation Greyhound.

The USS Cole is set to continue operations at the beginning of the day.