NORFOLK, Va. — Survivors and relatives of those killed in the deadly attack on the USS Cole in Yemen marked the 11th anniversary of the bombing on Wednesday, weeks before the man accused of planning the attack was set to be arraigned on charges that could carry the death penalty.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 9 at the U.S. military base in Cuba on charges that include murder in violation of the law of war. This would be the first death-penalty war crimes trial for a prisoner at Guantanamo under President Barack Obama.
Obama had pledged to close the detention center but ran into congressional opposition to moving detainees to the U.S.
The attack on the U.S. destroyer occurred while it was in the port of Aden for refueling. The explosion was carried out by suicide bombers in a small boat and put a massive hole into the side of the ship, killing 17 sailors and wounding 37. The youngest fallen sailors were 19. The oldest was 35. They hailed from large Navy towns like San Diego and Norfolk to towns in the heartland like Portland, N.D., and Fond du Lac, Wis.
In Ennis, Texas, the uncle of bombing victim Timothy Gauna, James Gauna, said by telephone that someone had laid a wreath on his nephew’s grave on Wednesday. He said that news touched him because it means that someone other than family still remembers his nephew, who was a 21-year-old information systems technician.
“I still get upset,” James Gauna said. “Why so young?”
On the first anniversary of the bombing, about 1,000 people attended the inaugural Norfolk memorial service. On Wednesday, there were about two dozen people.