USS Cole is headed back to the Persian Gulf. Thursday the guided missile destroyer left Naval Station Norfolk for the ship’s first trip back to the area where terrorists attacked in 2000.
Sailors and their families were buzzing with word of the killing of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Lieutenant Bill Coons summed it up. “Makes me a hell of a lot safer.” His wife Debbie was no longer fearful about his deployment. “I’m one-hundred-percent confident he’ll come back safe and everything will be great.”
Commanding Officer Bradley Roberson couldn’t tell us if the ship will go to Aden Harbor. He said the mission may have changed overnight with the hilling of Al-Zarqawi. “Last night’s news has changed the world a little bit today. So every day we wake up and look forward to seeing what the new day gives us.”
Thursday’s new day gave families little time for goodbye. Holly Freeman was struggling with three small children, a stroller, and lots of tears. “Some are tears of joy because the sooner he leaves the sooner he comes back. Some are tears of sadness.”
When thinking of USS Cole’s history there are many tears of sadness. 17 sailors died and dozens more were injured in the attack at 11:18 am on October 12, 2000. IC3 Joseph Jacobs is proud to carry on the mission those sailors started. “We honor those 17 people that passed on our ship every day. We’re ready to go back out there and show you can’t get us down.”
BM1 Derrick Pearson hoped to retire after this deployment. He asked to be assigned to USS Cole for his final journey. “The bombing that took place five years ago, going on and seeing the people who died on there made me feel proud to take orders to the Cole.” While he’s off to the Persian Gulf his son is fighting with the Army in Afghanistan. The memories of those 17 heroes on his ship hits close to home. ” I really makes me feel sad. But I know they died for a good cause and I’m carrying on their mission.”
A mission that may change overnight or tomorrow but that will no doubt honor the first sailors killed in the War on Terrorism.