Theodore's World: USS Cole Joins 6th Fleet In The Mediterranean

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June 15, 2006

USS Cole Joins 6th Fleet In The Mediterranean

Stars and Stripes

Sailors aboard the USS Cole, bombed by terrorists in 2000 as it refueled in Yemen, are getting their feet wet in the Mediterranean before the repaired ship returns for the first time to the Middle East since the deadly attack.

On Monday, the guided-missile destroyer entered into the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet as part of a seven-vessel expeditionary strike group, led by the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima. Now, roughly 6,000 sailors and Marines will spend three weeks in the Mediterranean before heading to the Middle East.

While the deployment is the Cole’s second since the attack, it is the first cruise back to the Middle East since October 2000, when terrorists blew a hole in the side of the vessel and killed 17 sailors.

“I am proud to hear that [the Cole] is actually going back to the Middle East, but at the same time concerned because, as we know by history of al-Qaida, they will try again,” said Master Chief Petty Officer James Parlier, who was on the Cole when it was attacked.

The destroyer’s return “shows our enemy that we are not defeated, and the very ship they attacked is going to help defend our cause, and that is doing the right thing for Iraq and its people,” Parlier said by e-mail in Great Lakes, Ill.

While in the Med, the strike group will work with navies from Greece, France, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, officials said.

“The port visits are twofold: we have a strong desire to get the ships and their crews to good liberty port calls, but there is more of a strategic focus, and that is to build and strengthen partnerships with those countries,” said Navy Lt. Chris Servello, a 6th Fleet spokesman.

USS Cole's Namesake Was 'Fighting Field Musician'

It's fitting that the man the Navy named the destroyer Cole after was wounded but rose to serve his country again and again.

Sgt. Darrell Samuel Cole enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 25, 1941. Following boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., he was sent to Field Music School for training as a field music Marine, the equivalent of a bugler.

After he completed instruction, he was transferred to the 1st Marine Regiment, and on Aug. 7, 1942, he and his unit reached the shores of Guadalcanal for the first American offensive of World War II.

Cole wasn't too happy in his role of field musician in a fighting outfit. After he proved himself by acting as a machine gunner in the absence of the regular gunner, he applied for a rating change. His request was refused, because the unit was short of buglers.

Cole completed his first tour of duty in February 1943 and returned to the United States, where he joined 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, which was then forming as a part of the 4th Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

When the unit moved to California, Cole again asked to transition from the field music rating, but his request was again denied.

During the 4th Marine Division's first engagement at Roi-Namur in the Kwajalien Atoll, Cole, forsaking his bugle, went into action as a machine gunner.

Four months later, when the division stormed ashore at Saipan, he was not only a member of a machine-gun unit, but was a machine-gun section leader - a post awarded to him because of his proven ability as a gunner.

On Saipan, Cole's squad leader was killed. Although he was wounded, Cole assumed command of the squad and was awarded the Bronze Star for "his resolute leadership, indomitable fighting spirit and tenacious determination in the face of terrific opposition." He was also awarded the Purple Heart.

A few days after the battle of Saipan, Cole led his squad ashore in the invasion of the neighboring islands of Tinian, where he continued to live up to his growing reputation as "the fighting field musician."

After the Marianas campaigns, he again requested a change of rating, and this time his request was approved. Cole was redesignated "corporal, line" and was subsequently promoted to sergeant in November 1944.

On Feb. 19, Cole led his machine-gun section ashore in the assault on Iwo Jima. Moving forward with the initial assault wave, the section's - and the entire company's - advances were slowed by a hail of fire from two Japanese emplacements, which Cole then personally destroyed using hand grenades.

His section continued to advance until it again was pinned down by enemy fire from three Japanese gun emplacements. One of these emplacements was silenced by Cole's machine gun, but then the gun jammed.

Armed with only a pistol and a hand grenade, Cole made a one-man attack against the two remaining positions. Twice he returned to his own lines for additional grenades and continued the attack under fierce enemy fire until he had succeeded in destroying the Japanese strong point.

On returning to his squad, he was hit by an enemy grenade and killed instantly.

His one-man attack and self-sacrifice allowed Cole's company to move forward against fortifications and attain its objective.

Wild Thing's comment.....
Smooth sailing, USS Cole! I will never forget we had a spineless SOB for a President at that time when the USS Cole was attacked!

Posted by Wild Thing at June 15, 2006 12:55 AM