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'Devotion to duty'

Plaque honors seaman killed in USS Cole bombing

Plaque honors seaman killed in USS Cole bombing

October 18, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A memorial plaque was dedicated at Fountain Rock Elementary School on Thursday night to U.S. Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, who was killed two years ago in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole.

"Craig's life was lost in his devotion to duty, to God and to country," said the Rev. Anne Weatherholt during a ceremony at the school where Wibberley was a student from 1986 to 1991. "He has become a hero to all of us."

Weatherholt said she hopes the plaque will inspire pride in every student who sees it.

The plaque was unveiled by Wibberley's parents, Thomas and Patty Wibberley. It reads, in part, "On Oct. 12, 2000, the destroyer USS Cole, while en route to the Persian Gulf, was attacked during refueling at the port of Aden, Yemen. In the attack, Seaman Wibberley and 16 other sailors were killed."

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Wibberley was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Navy Unit Commendation and the Combat Action Ribbon.

The plaque, which bears an image of Wibberley's face, was the idea of the Fountain Rock PTA.

It was produced at cost by Ralph Hause of Accent Imaging of Hagerstown.

Donations for the plaque came from the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Banks, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Conte Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William Cowden, Claude L. Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin B. Dentler, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan C. Finkelstein, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Gower, Mr. and Mrs. Randy Leatherman, Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Miller Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Tom Shaw, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Wibberley and Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Wood.

Wibberley's mother, Patty, read a poem about what it means to be an American.

Washington County Technical High School teacher Norman McGaughey remembered Wibberley as a dedicated student with a tremendous desire to please.

"In his senior year, it all came together for Craig. He learned respect for himself and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy to show his respect for his country," McGaughey said.

McGaughey said he and Wibberley continued to keep in touch via e-mail after he graduated.

"He wrote the week before the attack, telling me how great everything was going for him," McGaughey said. "Craig paid the ultimate respect to his country ... with his life."

Weatherholt recalled how she struggled the night before Wibberley's funeral service to find the words to ease the pain of those who knew the Williamsport native.

"I spoke of the wave of love that brought us together, then and now," Weatherholt said. "That wave of love still sustains us."

Patrick Roy of Keedysville was also killed in the Cole attack. A Veterans of Foreign Wars ceremony was held Saturday at Roy's grave site at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.

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