- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

NORFOLK When John Clodfelter buried his son last fall, he vowed that Kenneth Clodfelter and the 16 other sailors killed in the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole never would be forgotten.
Mr. Clodfelter was in Norfolk earlier this week to continue gathering signatures for his petition drive to get Virginia to issue a "Remember the USS Cole" specialty license plate in honor of the locally based destroyer.
Police Officer Steve Hoggard was among the first to approach the table Mr. Clodfelter and his wife, Gloria, set up outside City Hall.
"This was a terrorist attack that has been overshadowed by the World Trade Center," said Officer Hoggard, whose badge bore a black sash in memory of the police officers and firefighters who died while trying to rescue people after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York.
"These guys and these women gave their lives for their country," Officer Hoggard said of the Cole sailors. "They should be honored by a license plate. That's the least we can do."
Since early this year, Mr. Clodfelter has been collecting signatures for the petition, the first step in the process to get a bill passed authorizing the plates when the General Assembly convenes next year. He needed signatures of 350 persons willing to buy the plates.
Before yesterday, the Mechanicsville man had more than 1,400 signatures. He collected them during his travels around Virginia and received them in the mail from out-of-state supporters. He added about 100 signatures yesterday but said he wanted to reach a total of 3,000.
"I didn't want to take this to the General Assembly with just the minimum and have them say, 'How serious is he?'" said Mr. Clodfelter, whose 21-year-old son was a hull maintenance mechanic aboard the Cole. "I want to make it nearly impossible for them to turn this down."
Mr. Clodfelter said he would like a set of Cole plates to sell for $25, with $15 donated to the ship's welfare fund. Nonresidents could buy commemorative plates for $10 apiece, he said.
The plate is a way to jog the memory of a public that, after the initial swell of support, quickly forgot about the Oct. 12 attack in Yemen that ripped open the Cole, said Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Regal.
"We're military, and it's expected for it to happen to us," said Officer Regal, who stopped by to support the parents of his former friend and shipmate. "There are lots of things we should have learned from it," he said.
"Maybe we could have stopped or slowed down what happened in New York."
Delegate Jerrauld Jones, Norfolk Democrat, signed the petition and said he expected the bill would receive a lot of support. "After Cole and certainly now with the recent attacks, there are people who will want to remember what has happened," said Mr. Jones, a member of the House Transportation Committee, which handles most license-plate bills.
Mayor Paul Fraim wrote a letter endorsing Mr. Clodfelter's effort, calling the plate a "perpetual reminder of the sacrifices made daily by the men and women who serve this country with valor, bravery and dedication."
The Cole is being repaired at the Northrop Grumman Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., where it was built.
On Sept. 14, the ship was moved to an outfitting pier, where months of assembly lay ahead before the ship's return to Norfolk in April.

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