'He'll be with me forever'

Services honor Seaman Craig Wibberley and Fireman Patrick Roy, Washington County sailors killed in the 2000 terrorist attack on

Services honor Seaman Craig Wibberley and Fireman Patrick Roy, Washington County sailors killed in the 2000 terrorist attack on

October 13, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

SHARPSBURG - Fireman Patrick Roy's white tombstone stands out among the gray, weathered ones of the Civil War dead at Antietam National Cemetery.

Killed by terrorists in 2000 while serving aboard the USS Cole, Roy was the first person to be interred in the cemetery since it closed in 1953. A former Keedysville resident, Roy's family was given special permission to bury him there.

"I'm always grateful that people take time out of their lives to come and honor Patrick," said his father, Michael Roy, after an annual ceremony Friday at the cemetery to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the attack. "(Losing him) has not gotten any easier. From what I gather, it never does. You just learn to live with it."

Seaman Craig Wibberley of Williamsport also died aboard the Cole.

He was honored about an hour before Roy in a service at St. Mark's Episcopal Church Cemetery on Md. 68. Roughly 70 people attended both ceremonies.


Craig's father, Tom Wibberley, said his grief has been relentless.

"I think of Craig ... He'll be with me forever," Wibberley said. "Every Oct. 12, I wake up and wish he wouldn't have gone to breakfast."

Wibberley said he was told by Craig's shipmates that on the morning of the attack, his son was eating in the mess hall, which took the brunt of the explosion.

The USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer, was bombed by terrorists Oct. 12, 2000, as it refueled off Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed in the attack and 39 others were wounded.

During parts of the services, Patricia Wibberley and Kate Brown, the fallen sailors' mothers, comforted each other.

Patricia Wibberley said her daughter, Toni, had a son recently in Montana and named him Cole.

Several speakers praised Roy and Wibberley for their sacrifice.

VFW Chaplain Ken Britter read from Isaiah 40:31, which says, in part, "Those who hope in the Lord ... Will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Retired Navy Capt. William Self of Mount Airy, Md., spoke at both graveside services.

He told those who attended that it wasn't uncommon for civilians in the Middle East to steer small boats up to docked U.S. warships to sell trinkets.

The Cole's sailors didn't think anything was unusual as Islamic extremists did the same before detonating their explosives, Self said. After the blast, sailors scrambled to save their comrades and the ship, which was repaired and remains in service today, he said.

Richard Udoff, commander of the Maryland VFW, said the ceremony to honor Roy and Wibberley began Oct. 12, 2001. Officials from the VFW and the Navy intend to hold the ceremony each year on the anniversary of the Cole's attack until 2021, he said.

The 20-year span has no significance, Udoff said. That period was agreed upon by the Navy and VFW.

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