USS Cole leaves for 6-month deployment

NORFOLK (Aug. 22, 2014) Ensign Dustin Backer, of Brentwood, Tenn., hugs his wife goodbye before departing Naval Station Norfolk aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). The ship was preparing to depart on a deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Jessica Kellogg/Released)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WAVY) — The USS Cole left Naval Station Norfolk Friday morning, beginning a six-month deployment.

“A little butterflies here and there, but there are only two days that count: the day you leave and the day you come back,” said Chief Select Alain Sue. “Nobody wants to leave their families, but at the end of the day we have to go do the job that we’ve been trained to go do.”

“Today is a really tough day on me and probably on half the crew,” said OS2 Nancy Reyes. “We got to leave them behind and say goodbye. Goodbyes are the hardest. We’ll be ok.”

Photos: USS Cole leaves Norfolk

The Navy said the guided-missile destroyer will be operating in the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding waters. It’s set to conduct maritime operations and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities.

“It is an honor to command Cole as we set sail,” Cmdr. Dennis Farrell, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a news release. “The men and women who make up the crew of Cole are this nation’s best and brightest, and they have answered the call to serve America, protect the nation’s security, and carry out the maritime strategy.”

USS Cole last deployed in 2012 for an operation originally scheduled to last six months, but extended to nine. The ship returned to Virginia in 2013. Between maintenance periods, the crew completed certification exercises, participation in the NATO exercise Joint Warrior, and Fleet Week New York earlier this year.

The Cole was commissioned on June 8, 1996 and is named in honor of Marine Sgt. Darrell S. Cole, who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.

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