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Local victims of USS Cole bombing honored

October 13, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- For Tom Wibberley, the war on terrorism began Oct. 12, 2000, when his son died while serving aboard the USS Cole.

Seaman Craig Wibberley of Williamsport and Fireman Patrick Roy of Keedysville were among 17 sailors killed by terrorists who carried out a suicide bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden.

Both men were honored Monday afternoon by the United States Navy and Veterans of Foreign Wars in separate services.

Tom Wibberley's memory of that day nine years ago is very clear, he said shortly after the service honoring his son at the St. Mark's Episcopal Church cemetery on Lappans Road near Boonsboro.

"It's really nice to have friends and people come by that knew Craig and remember," Wibberley said.

He said he wishes there was more recognition of Oct. 12, 2000.

"I know everyone looks at Sept. 11 as the beginning of the war on terrorism. Really, today was," he said.

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Most of those gathered in the cemetery Monday were members of their church, said Craig Wibberley's mother, Patty Wibberley.

Her daughter, Toni, and grandson, Cole, were there.

Cole just turned 2, but "he knows who Uncle Craig is from the picture in our living room," Patty Wibberley said. "I don't know if he really understands, but we're trying to teach him."

The Wibberleys also attended the ceremony for Roy at Antietam National Cemetery. Roy was the first person to be interred in the cemetery since it closed in 1953. His family was given special permission to bury him there.

Roy's parents did not want to speak to a reporter.

Paul Johnson, District 3 Commander for the Maryland VFW, read the names of the sailors killed aboard the USS Cole.

A VFW bugler played taps at the close of each ceremony, and a contingent of sailors from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., attended both ceremonies.

"We've been doing this all eight years ... We're happy and proud to be showing our support for fallen shipmates," Chief Hospital Corpsman William Doolittle said.

The 22 sailors marched in formation and stood silently throughout the ceremonies.

At the Antietam ceremony, a VFW honor guard from Salisbury, Md., marched in with the sailors. They marched alongside graves of soldiers from much earlier wars, to the beats of a single drummer.

Jack Lewis, state commander for the Maryland VFW, spoke at both services.

When people heard the news nine years ago, "we could not believe something this horrific could happen," Lewis said.

During his invocation at Roy's service, VFW State Chaplain Ronald James said Roy had been "a lowly fireman here on Earth, now an admiral in your Kingdom."

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