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20th Anniversary of USS Cole Attack

Written by on October 13, 2020

BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — Eleven months before the 9/11 attacks rocked the U.S. back on its heels, Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer, as it refueled in Yemen’s Aden Harbor.

A small boat loaded with explosives came alongside Cole and blew up; ripping a massive hole in the port side.

Tom Wibberly’s son, Fireman Craig Wibberly, was in the mess hall amidships when the explosion ripped the warship apart at 11:18 a.m. local time.

Craig was apparently killed instantly along with another young sailor from Washington County. Wibberly grew up near Boonsboro and was a star athlete at Williamsport High School.

Patrick Roy, who grew up as a boy in Keedysville, graduated from Storm King High School at Cornwall-on-Hudson in New York. Wibberly says the boys only knew each other as shipmates, but they are buried within a few miles of each other.

Roy is buried at Antietam National Cemetery near Sharpsburg thanks to 6th District Congressman Roscoe Bartlett who got permission for him to be buried there in almost 50 years.
Craig is buried next to his grandfather at St. Mark’s Cemetery who died 30 days after his grandson was killed on the other side of the globe.

Before Tom Wibberly and his wife drove to Norfolk, home base of his son’s ship, he took me to his grave at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church just across Antietam Creek where he lives.

Tom Wibberly visits his only son’s grave often to talk to him and tell him how much he misses him, even after all these years.

Wibberly says it seems like only yesterday that two sailors knocked on his door and informed him that his 19 year old son was one of 17 sailors killed in the attack. Wibberly says he feels like he was robbed. “My only son was taken from me,” said Wibberly as we knelt at his grave.

The mastermind of the deadly attack is still being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba awaiting trial. That infuriates Wibberly.

Asked what he’d like to be done with the suspect, Wibberly, a former Marine who served during the Vietnam War said, “Prosecuted and executed.” He faulted the military judicial system for putting him and other parents through a long-drawn out procedure that could go on for years.

In the meantime, Wibberly stays busy in his garage; restoring a rare LT-2 Corvette. He has already restored a rare LT-1 Corvette that his son drove before he enlisted in the Navy.


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