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USS Cole attack: Survivors mark 10th anniversary in Virginia

USS Cole was attacked on Oct. 12, 2000 by Al Qaeda bombers who pulled alongside the USS Cole in a small boat and detonated explosives. The explosion killed 17 sailors and injured 39 while the ship was in Yemen.

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Jesse and Connie Nieto of Newnan, Ga., attend the USS Cole 10th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday. Nieto's son Marc, was killed in the attack.

The Virginian-Pilot,/Stephen M. Katz/AP

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Survivors and relatives of those killed in the deadly attack on the USS Cole are marking the 10th anniversary of the bombing.

Past and present crew members of the USS Cole gathered Tuesday at the destroyer's homeport at Naval Station Norfolk. The Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the Cole killed 17 sailors and injured 39 while the ship was in port for a fuel stop in Yemen.

Navy officials rang a bell and read the names of those who died at the exact time of the attack.

Navy brass and sailors joined with the extended family for the ceremony at the USS Cole Memorial. It was built from 17 granite slabs to symbolize the sailors who died, surrounded by 28 black pine trees to represent those sailors plus the 11 children they left behind.

"You've been through so much together," Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, told the crowd who gathered for the event. "So it's fitting that you're spending this day here at the Cole memorial together."

Norm Larson, who survived the attack 10 years ago, flew in from Missouri for the day. The chief gunner's mate was overcome with emotion at the ceremony, which included the laying of wreath at the memorial.

Larson said the event is an important milestone for him, yet there was nothing in the newspapers back home about the Cole anniversary.

"I hope people don't forget it," he told the Daily Press of Newport News. "It's so easy to blow it off."

Gov. Bob McDonnell marked the anniversary by encouraging Virginians to always remember those who serve and those who have lost their lives defending the nation.

"Their loss will never go away," McDonnell said in a statement. "Neither will our love for them, and our commitment to finding and destroying the evil forces who perpetrated this cowardly act."

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