NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The 17 sailors killed in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen were honored Tuesday on the 10th anniversary of their deaths at their home port in Virginia.
About 200 people, many of them families of the dead, attended a simple ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station, The Virginian-Pilot reported. They listened as Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr. gave brief remarks, followed by the tolling of a ship's bell and the reading of the names of the 17, which began at 11:18 a.m., the time the Cole was struck by suicide attackers.
"It's a rough day, and being here with all these people who are going through the same pain -- it helps," said John Clodfelter, who lost his son, Kenneth. "Since the attack, we've all kind of become a family."
A wreath was carried by two members of the Cole's current crew.
The Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, was in Aden for refueling when it was hit by a boat loaded with explosives. While the blast did extensive damage and wounded 39 members of the crew as well as killing 17, sailors kept the ship afloat and able to return to active duty after extensive repairs. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement issued in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama said the nation was paying tribute to the "courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives in this attack, and to their families."
"Al-Qaida continues to use Yemen, as well as other places around the world, as platforms from which to pursue its murderous agenda, and we continue to work closely with our Yemeni and other global partners to counter the al-Qaida threat," he added. "As we do, we will always remember those we lost on the USS Cole, and we will honor their legacy of selfless service by advancing the values that they stood for throughout their lives."