U.S. Navy

US Navy to Mark 20 Years Since Terror Attack on USS Cole

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Monday will mark 20 years since the terrorist attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole.

San Diego native, Lakiba Nicole Palmer, was one of 17 sailors killed that day.

The blast from the small boat suicide bombing in the harbor of Yemen tore a 32-by-36-foot hole in the ship's side

Senior Chief Damage Controlman William Merchen was on the Cole, “We could tell it was bad.”

Merchen lost one of his best friends in the attack, Seaman Marc Nieto, “There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it 20 years later I'm being honest when I say every single day I think about Cole.”

Merchen named his son after his fallen friend and fellow sailor.

Recording account for U.S. Navy history Merchen describes what it was like when the blast hit, “The bomb went off, the lights went out, the ventilation stopped, and everyone was jarred from where they were.”

He says the 200 members of the Cole’s crew pulled together to try to save as many sailors they could.

The Navy spent days trying to find the missing.

But in the end 17 sailors were lost and 39 injured.

Today as a member of the Atlantic Fleet's Afloat Training Group, Merchen shares his experience to help sailors to help them fully understand why they train they way they do, “There hasn't been a single one of those trainings or drills that I haven't thought about the attack.”

And says the U.S. Navy has implemented a number of new safety precautions to keep ships safe, “There are watch stations that exist that didn't exist before.”

There are changes in San Diego too.

A city street is now named after Palmer who left behind a husband and daughter.

A ceremony will be held Monday October 12th in Norfolk, Virginia to remember the bombing of USS Cole.

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