HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Fourteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 people on board and wounding 39 others.
Hampton Roads felt the loss heavily, because the Cole’s homeport is Naval Station Norfolk.
It’s now also home to a memorial to those lost in the attack, and where family members gather on the anniversary of the attack to honor and remember their loved ones.
Jamal Gunn was in college when he got the phone call telling him his 22-year-old brother, Cherone Gunn, had been killed.
“It’s a different kind of pain than it was, say, eight or nine years ago,” he says. “It’s still there, the memory will never go away.”
Gunn never wants it to go away – not for him, and not for anyone else.
“We really felt that if the world had listened to us, if the world had paid attention to what happened to the USS Cole, that might have given pause or some second thoughts who wanted to carry out what happened on September 11, 2001.”
Command Master Chief James Parlier was on the Cole the day of the attack, treating wounded sailors. He speaks to families like the Gunns all the time.
“We have learned our lesson,” he said. “You can see that in the waterfront here in Norfolk, the way we protect our ships. […] Their sacrifices weren’t in vain.”
Still, Jamal thinks about what his brother could have given in life, instead of death.
“He had so much more to give,” he says. “I just wish he was here to actually tell his own story and live the kind of life I know he should have.”