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'I'd like to find some way to have revenge'

October 14, 2000

'I'd like to find some way to have revenge'



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer
Craig Wibberley on ship

Craig Wibberley, above, waves good-bye as he leaves for sea in this photo taken by his father, Thomas Wibberley.

Craig Wibberley

Craig Wibberley is pictured in uniform.

Family and Friends

Craig's sister, Toni Wibberley, is embraced by a family friend Friday. The U.S. flag hanging from Craig's bedroom window had flown on the USS Cole. It was a gift he sent home.

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Mother and son's photo

Patty Wibberley holds a framed US navy portrait of he son. Thomas Wibberley and Craig's sister, Toni, stand beside her.

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer



WILLIAMSPORT - In the photograph, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley waves good-bye to his parents from the deck of the USS Cole as the ship departs from port in Norfolk, Va.

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Thomas Wibberley said Friday that he snapped the photo in July. It was the last time he and his wife, Patty, saw their 19-year-old son alive.

The Williamsport native was one of 17 USS Cole crew members killed Thursday when suspected terrorist suicide bombers blew a hole in the warship as it refueled in a Yemeni harbor on the Arabian Peninsula.

Patrick Roy, 19, of Keedysville is also among those presumed dead."It's just a waste of life," said Thomas Wibberley, a former U.S. Marine. "I'd like to find some way to have revenge. I don't know what it could be or what they would do, but I hope they do something."

Many Williamsport residents agreed.

Flags flew at half-mast Friday throughout the small town, where people from Town Hall to Byers' Busy Corner restaurant shared their dismay about Craig's death and their anger about the bombing.

"Somebody better do something," said U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Hart as he prepared for a haircut at the Williamsport Barber Shop. "You've gotta fight fire with fire. Give 'em a little dose of their own medicine. It can't get much worse than this."

Patrons at the lunch counter in Byers' Busy Corner watched television coverage of the dead sailors' flag-draped caskets being carried from an Air Force jet to hearses at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The bodies will arrive at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base today, according to the Associated Press.

"It's a shame that our young boys have to go over there and this stuff has to happen," restaurant owner Dorothy Byers said.

"I think we ought to back our ships into the water and shoot some of our rockets," said her brother, Walter Williams.

Sandy Delauter looked up from her sandwich. "I think they should bring our boys home," she said. The Williamsport resident said she has two sons serving in the military.

Williamsport barber Janice Enciu, whose son used to date Craig's older sister, Toni, said she felt compassion for the Wibberleys' "very close" family.

Former Williamsport High School Principal Herbert Hardin said Craig's parents were always involved in his school activities.

The seaman liked working on Corvettes with his father, and he e-mailed his parents at least three times a week, Thomas Wibberley said.

In an e-mail sent the day before he died, Craig told his father he was going to get him a new Marine Corps ring.

The many "great friends" who often flocked to the family's home to hangout and shoot pool with Craig turned out in droves Thursday night and Friday to share the family's grief, his father said.

Craig also forged strong relationships with teachers and administrators at the Washington County Career Studies Center. Computer applications teacher Norman McGaughey even taught his student fly-fishing, Thomas Wibberley said.

Craig graduated in 1999. Though most current students don't know him, his death had an impact on faculty members, casting a shroud over the technical high school's homecoming festivities, Principal Arnold E. Hammann said.

Counselors were available to help staff members Friday and a crisis team was on standby, Hammann said.

"It's not a good day," school secretary Eileen Linn said.

Members of American Legion Post 202 in Williamsport wished to send condolences to the friends and families of the sailors lost in the tragedy, said 2nd Vice Commander Harry Speaker, a Korean War veteran.

Yet military personnel know the dangers they face, Speaker said.

"Anytime you put on a uniform in the military, you're a target," he said.

Thomas Wibberley said he feared the worst when he heard about the bombing on television Thursday. Craig's shipboard tasks included lowering the destroyer's small anchor and helping with refueling.

"I was afraid he may have been one, but I was hoping he wasn't," Wibberley said.

He said his son was worried about traveling in dangerous waters but was excited about his naval experience.

Craig took advantage of all the opportunities the Navy offered, his father said.

He videotaped many of the sights he saw in port and took college classes aboard the ship. He had recently completed an English class and was preparing for a history course when he was killed.

He was focused on his goal to study high-tech naval communications systems and had earned the right to enter school right out of boot camp, Wibberley said.

He said he was angry that the Navy denied his son that right.

"He shouldn't have been on that ship," said Wibberley, visibly shaken. "He had a lot to live for. What a shame."

Wibberley reiterated his comments in television interviews Friday afternoon on Channel 4 in Washington and Friday evening on CNN's "Larry King Live," where he said of those behind the presumed attack that killed his son, "I hope they get caught and are executed."

Patty Wibberley also appeared in the Channel 4 interview, saying, "I know Craig was proud to be there and doing what he had to do for our country."

Staff writers Julie Greene and Scott Butki contributed to this account.

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