The USA Today 'report' below was featured
on the front page of the paper edition,
but was buried on the web site.
Failed to note that the Cole was
enforcing sanctions against Iraq.
That means it was protecting Israel, not the U.S.
Forgot to mention that Danzig was too busy selling our secrets
to China to make sure the Cole had adequit security.
'They died protecting us'
By Blake Morrison and Jessie Halladay, USA TODAY
NORFOLK, Va. Drenched in applause, using crutches and canes, the wounded from the USS Cole stepped slowly off buses Wednesday at the Norfolk Naval Station. Moments later, seven ambulances brought those who couldn't walk.
Some lay strapped to stretchers and propped up by pillows, wearing slings and bandages and pristine white uniforms altered only hours before.
Under drizzling skies just a shade lighter than battleship gray, they joined President Clinton and thousands of others at the Norfolk Naval Station to mourn 17 comrades killed in Yemen last week during a terrorist attack on the USS Cole.
"Their tragic loss reminds us that even when America is not at war, our military still risks their lives to keep peace," Clinton told mourners, many who wept during much of the ceremony. "To those who attacked them, we say you will not find safe harbor. We will find you, and justice will prevail."
The hour-long service included a speech by Navy Secretary Richard Danzig. "We grieve because we couldn't protect them," he said. "Instead, they died protecting us."
As Clinton read the names of each victim softly, family members clutched each other. "He was such a pleasant boy," recalled Dorothy Saunders, the aunt of Timothy Saunders, 32, one of the sailors killed. "You would have loved him," she assured, "as your son, as your brother, as your neighbor."
Hours before the service, a crowd that eventually stretched the length of Pier 12 longer than an aircraft carrier had begun to gather. Some were friends of the dead; others were former Navy sailors long since retired. As all reminded, on this day, in this Navy community, everyone was family. And despite their injuries, 36 of the 39 wounded in the attack made it here to pay their respects some straight from the Naval Medical Center in nearby Portsmouth, still hooked to IVs for pain medication.
"One told me, 'Doc, you couldn't hold me here with a chain of wild horses,'" said Capt. Martin Snyder, a senior attending physician.
Some in attendance reminisced about homecomings lost. Sailor Rebecca Cessna, 20, a firefighter currently stationed at the base, hadn't seen cousin Craig Wibberley since she was 13. Cessna discovered that Wibberley, 19, had died when she called home the day of the attack. She had been looking forward to seeing him again, she said, when the Cole returned to port.
"I don't think there will be too much closure, but I hope it will ease the minds of the families," Cessna said.