USS Cole memorial honors those who lost their lives

23 Oct 2000 | Sgt. Sharon G. Angell

More than 100 Marines and Sailors joined here together for a ceremony at the Protestant Chapel Oct. 23 to honor the 17 Sailors killed in USS Cole bombing.

The service, which seemed to be a solemn one, started with the posting of the colors and then the invocation.

Chaplain Ollis J. Mozon, command chaplain for the base here, gave the opening remarks and some words of encouragement.

"On behalf of all Marines and Sailors, I want to express my deepest sympathy to the friends and families of those lost," said Mozon.

The servicemen slowly filled the empty pews of the chapel, and paid their last respects to the Sailors who never made it home alive.

Mozon also referred to the relationship between Marines and Sailors, and how in a time like this, attitudes change and the support comes out.

"There are always jokes and jabs between the Marines and Sailors, but when the bombing of USS Cole happened Oct. 12, there were no jokes," said Mozon. "There were only words of encouragement being spoken.

"They did all they could do to encourage one another."

Following the opening remarks, Chaplain Larry P. Ferrell read a prayer for the Navy and for those who were lost in the accident.

There were also scripture readings and a memorial reflection.

Gwen Steger, executive secretary for the command chaplain, then read the names of each Sailor killed. Between each name, a bell was sounded for each person.

Chaplain Diane P. Harper, chaplain for 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group, gave a prayer of remembrance.

A member of the 2d Marine Division band played taps, followed by a benediction.

There seemed to be thoughts of sorrow felt by the Sailors of the ceremony as some left the chapel with their eyes filled with tears.

"It is kinda tough because in a peace time situation, you don't expect something like this to happen," said Chief Frank Field, division officer for base chaplain.

The chaplains here dealt with a lot of families of Sailors who had questions, wanting to know who had been killed and was their son or daughter one of them, according to Field.

"Norfolk (Va.) set up a 24-hour hotline to answer all the questions of the families and friends. It was actually a real person they were talking to, not an answering machine," he continued.

The next step in the healing process of those who were injured and those who survived will be the mental side of recovery, said Field.

"It is hard to deal with something like that and we have to help support them and be there for them," said Field. "We also have to help those who witnessed it."

"Although we didn't know them all personally, they are our shipmates," Harper said. "We must not forget them."

*O eternal Lord, God, you alone spread out the heavens and rule the raging sea. Take into your most gracious protection our country's Navy and all who serve therein. Preserve them from the dangers of the sea and from the violence of the enemy, that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America, and a security for such as sail upon the seas in peaceful and lawful missions. In serving you, O Lord, may our Sailors serve their country; through Jesus Christ, our lord. Amen.

*I love the salt spray in my face as the ship speeds through the water. The beauty of a sunrise or sunset at sea, with the myriad of colors painted brilliantly against the horizon that seems to stretch forever, is without equal anywhere else on earth. Then, as darkness envelops the ship like a favorite old blanket, the stars appear to guide us on our way, the constellations outlines against a blackness that no landlubber can understand or appreciate. Only the Sailor's who's been there.