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Halfway bridge dedication signs had incorrect information

November 12, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD and SCOTT BUTKI

pepperb@herald-mail.comscottb@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - Signs that went up Wednesday dedicating the bridge at Halfway Boulevard over Interstate 81 to two Washington County men killed in the 2000 USS Cole attack listed the wrong date and wrong ranks, but the signs will be corrected soon, Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, who spearheaded the dedication's effort, said Thursday.

Fireman Patrick Roy of Keedysville and Seaman Craig Wibberley of Williamsport died in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack. Both were serving in the U.S. Navy, and both were 19.

At least one of the signs listed the attack on the Cole as taking place on Oct. 12, 2002. It also listed Roy's rank as fireman apprentice and Wibberley's as seaman apprentice. Both were promoted posthumously, according to the U.S. Navy.

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Munson, who spearheaded the dedication's effort, said Thursday, "The first time I saw those signs was in the newspaper this morning. It will be corrected in a few days."

Munson said he gave the correct date to the Maryland Highway Administration, which made and installed the signs.

"Somehow they just made a mistake. It's human error," he said.

Munson has said he made the request for the bridge's dedication on behalf of the Washington County Commissioners and the county's delegation to the General Assembly.

On Thursday, when reached at a Veterans Day service at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway, Tom Wibberley, Craig Wibberley's father, said he was not worried about the incorrect date.

"They'll fix it. I'm sure they'll fix it," he said.

A dedication ceremony probably will not occur until Oct. 12, 2005, the fifth anniversary of the Cole attack, Munson said Wednesday. An official plaque also is expected to be ready then, he said.

The bridge was dedicated in September, Lora Rakowski, spokeswoman for the Maryland Highway Administration, said.

The signs were put up Wednesday, one of them on the back of an existing sign and the other in a median on the bridge, she said.

The USS Cole, a Navy destroyer, was refueling in the port of Aden in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000, when suicide bombers aboard an explosives-laden boat rammed the vessel in the side. Seventeen American sailors died in the attack, which has been attributed to al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization also blamed for the airplane hijackings that resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, who was at the same Veterans Day service Thursday as Tom Wibberley, said that the signs will have to be corrected as soon as possible.

"It's important that they be remembered, but it's also important that it be right," he said.

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