Today marks the 17th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole, an attack that led to the death of 17 United States Navy Sailors, including two men from the Coastal Bend. The American Guided Missile Destroyer was bombed by terrorists in Yemen on October 12, 2000.
On that ship was 22-year old Ronchester M. Santiago from Kingsville and 26-year old Gary Swenchonis Junior from Rockport. The USS Cole was being refueled in a Yemen harbor when a small boat carrying two suicide bombers rode up to the destroyer and exploded.
Shortly after the attack, the terrorist group al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the explosion. In all, 17 sailors were killed and 39 others were wounded in the attack.
A memorial to the victims has been set up at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. It overlooks a channel that is often used by U.S. Naval ships heading out to sea.