- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

NORFOLK (AP) Watching the devastation at the World Trade Center, Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Regal flashed back to last fall's blast in Yemen that ripped open the USS Cole, killing 17 sailors and injuring 37.
"When I saw it on TV, it was just, like, exactly what we went through, of course on a grander scale," said Petty Officer Regal, 32, who was a hull maintenance technician aboard the destroyer.
On Friday, the first anniversary of the Cole bombing, a memorial to the victims will be dedicated at the Norfolk Naval Station. The memorial, featuring a 10-foot-tall monolith encircled by 17 granite slabs, pays tribute to crew members who saved the Cole from sinking.
The city of Norfolk also plans to hold a candlelight vigil, much like the one it held after the Cole was attacked.
"The common thread that runs between the Cole and the events of Sept. 11 is that these were acts of terror, apparently committed by the same group of terrorists," said Mayor Paul Fraim, referring to the network headed by Osama bin Laden.
"This national sense of loss that we are all sharing is one that the community here feels very much a part of," Mr. Fraim said. "The world has seen and understands what the folks in New York and Washington have felt."
Gary R. Edgerton, chairman of the communication and theater arts department at Old Dominion University, believes last month's terrorist acts have raised the Cole's profile.
"What happened on Sept. 11 gave an added relevance after the fact to the Cole," Mr. Edgerton said. "The Cole has gotten back on the radar screen. It was seen not as an isolated event but now as one within a series."
One of the Navy's most advanced combat ships, the Cole was refueling at Yemen's Aden port when a suicide boat laden with explosives blasted a 40-by-40-foot hole in its side.
Most of the crew of about 300 stayed with the ship, getting the wounded to a hospital within about 90 minutes and working to save the ship from sinking.
Petty Officer Regal recalled the scene: "Mass hysteria. Confusion. No lights, no power, absolutely nothing."
Petty Officer Regal said he is still sometimes overcome by sadness at the loss of his friends. He also feels angry, wondering whether the Sept. 11 attacks could have been prevented if more aggressive, immediate action had been taken against the terrorists who crippled the Cole.
"What happened to us was just a test how they bombed us and got away with it," Petty Officer Regal said. "They knew they could get away with it, so they went for a grander scale."

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