Stark Crewmen Unveil Monument to Fallen Shipmates
MAYPORT NAVAL STATION, Fla. (AP) _ In an emotional memorial service today two USS Stark crewmen unveiled a bronze and stone monument in memory of their 37 shipmates killed by an Iraqi missile in May.
″God gave them dignity, but they earned their own honor,″ Rear Adm. Michael P. Kalleres told the families of the slain sailors at the dock where the Stark had departed in February and will return Wednesday.
Chief Petty Officer Henry Bloney and Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary Goodale pulled away the shroud covering the memorial as family members broke into tears the
″We owe an honor to those young people and their family members,″ Kalleres said during the 15-minute service before 75 people.
The Stark left its home port six months ago for what was considered a routine patrol in the Persian Gulf. But on May 17, two French-made Exocet missiles fired by an Iraqi warplane ripped through the hull of the frigate, killing the crewmen.
Families and friends of the surviving crewmen are expected to greet the ship when it docks, about 10:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday. A sister ship, the USS Steven W. Groves, is to return an hour earlier. Its tour in the Persian Gulf was extended for two months after the Stark was attacked.
Wednesday has been declared ″Yellow Ribbon Day″ by Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri, who is asking local residents to wear and display yellow ribbons in honor of the Stark and Groves crewmen.