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Lost sailor comes home

October 14, 2000

Lost sailor comes home



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


On the day the body of Craig Wibberley of Williamsport was returned to the United States, the U.S. Navy informed the family of Patrick Roy of Keedysville that he, too, perished in the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole.

Roy, 19, had been listed as missing and presumed dead.

Roy family friend Elliott Haines, of Myersville, Md., said after the family received the notification Saturday, "The impact is now more keenly felt because there's no hope."

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook ordered flags at Washington County government buildings be flown at half-staff until further notice as a gesture of support and sympathy for the families and friends of the two young men.

County employees will be encouraged to make donations to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Fund to benefit sailors assigned to the USS Cole.

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Five members of the Wibberley family drove to Dover (Del.) Air Force Base to see the casket containing 19-year-old Craig Wibberley's remains arrive on American soil, said Thomas Wibberley, Craig's father.

"It was a real solemn military procedure," he said.

Although there will be DNA testing to officially confirm the identities of the remains, Wibberley said the family was told one of the five bodies that arrived in Dover Saturday was Craig's.

It's too soon to say when the military will release Craig's body to the family, so they don't yet know when they can hold local funeral services, Wibberley said.

The family plans to travel to Norfolk, Va., for a memorial service Wednesday for all victims of the explosion, he said. Haines said Roy's family also may attend.

Wibberley said the family wasn't sure at first they wanted to go to Dover Saturday, but he is glad they did. They were the only family in attendance when the C-17 military transport plane carrying the bodies arrived from Rhein-Main Air Base outside Frankfurt, Germany.

Military and FBI officials were there, as was Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper. They were gracious, caring and helpful, Wibberley said.

Officials reassured the Wibberley family they are working hard to determine who is responsible for the explosion, he said.

"They are doing everything they can. I know they are," he said.

Meanwhile, the family has set up a scholarship fund in Craig's name at Washington County Technical School.

"They helped Craig to grow into the person he grew into - a very responsible young man," he said. "That is why he was the super person he was."

Craig was an inspiration to his friends and others who knew him because of how hard he worked at everything in life, his father said.

"He just wanted to learn, and that was what he was doing in the Navy," he said. "Craig was a good sailor; he strove to do everything the best he could and he did it."

Thomas Wibberley said he has found it cathartic to talk to the media since the tragedy. He said he realized that while talking to reporters Friday morning, and later agreed to appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" Friday night.

Wibberley said he is proud to talk about his son.

"I had the best son you could ever ask for," he said.

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