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U.S. Navy Doing All it Can for U.S.S. Cole Victims, Families

Aired October 13, 2000 - 10:11 a.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: With the U.S.S. Cole, the ship that was attacked yesterday in the port off the southern coast of Yemen, we want to make sure we are using our most sensitive faculties about us when reporting this next story. Gary Tuchman live in Norfolk with the U.S. Navy is just about to release that list of those who have been killed and injured as a result of that explosion yesterday. Let's go to Gary now and pick things up live, there -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, they have just released the list of seven people confirmed dead and the 10 people missing and presumed dead. At least one of the people killed was a woman, at least one of the people hurt is a woman. I want to give you the names, I'm going to read them slowly with their hometowns, starting with those killed:

Electronics technician 1st Class Richard Costelow, he's from Morrisville, Pennsylvania.

Signalman Seaman Recruit Cheron Louis Gunn from Rex, Georgia. It's believed that the name Cheron is spelled C-H-E-R-O-N. Here at the base in Norfolk, they haven't confirmed if that fatality is a woman or a man; it sounds like it could be a woman. Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels from Norfolk, Virginia.

This is a woman who was killed: Seaman Recruit Lakiba Nicole Palmer from San Diego, California.

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders from Ringold, Virginia.

Ensign Andrew Triplett from Macon, Mississippi. And the other person confirmed dead, Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wilbberley from Williamsport, Maryland.

Those missing and presumed dead:

Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodefelter from Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, a woman, Woodleaf, North Carolina.

Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Guana from Rice, Texas. Engineman 2nd class Marc Ian Nieto from Find du Lac, Wisconsin. Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd class Ronald Scott Owens from Vero Beach, Florida.

Also missing and presumed dead, Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett from Churchville, Maryland.

Also Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy from Cornwall on Hudson, New York.

Also on the list, Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Kevin Shawn Rux from Portland, North Dakota.

Two more names on the list:

Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Mananga Santiago...

HEMMER: Gary, I apologize for the very rude interruption, now, but the admiral now speaking in Norfolk. We want to go pick him up live, now.


ADM. ROBERT NATTER, U.S. ATLANTIC FLEET: ... and those notifications were completed late last night. We have also notified the next of kin of the injured, and those notifications are continuing, and we're continuing to maintain liaison with their families.

In addition, we currently have three personnel in the hospital in Djibouti, 19 personnel are currently in the air, being transported to Ramstein Base in Europe.

Once the personnel are at Ramstein, we will be working with a hospital there to determine what their next stop would be. If they're well enough to return home, they will do that. If they're well enough to return to duty, they will do that. If others have to remain in Ramstein for further treatment, we will then be working with the families and loved ones for their transportation over to Ramstein to join them.

I would like to state again that this senseless act of apparent terrorism is not one that we will take lightly. We will continue in our service to country in our overseas commitments, as we have in the past and as the CNO indicated this morning we will do in the future. We currently have 101 ships forward-deployed.

I will tell you that USS Cole is a ship that was built to fight. The ship and its crew fought this tragedy very professionally. I think the power of this ship is indicated by the fact that it has held up so well with this kind of explosion and damage. And, again, we're working very closely with the crew to continue with assistance.

With that, I'd like to open it up to any questions.


QUESTION: ... the ship home, and how will it get home?

NATTER: That decision hasn't been made yet. We have people on- scene assessing the damage and determining the best course of action for returning that ship to duty.

QUESTION: Admiral, is there any possibility that some of the injured that have been taken to Germany could perhaps end up here at Norfolk Naval?

NATTER: I think that there's a very good possibility of that. If we have personnel who were injured, and once they're at Ramstein, if they have a broken arm or leg, obviously we don't want them returning to the ship. They would probably be transported here. We should have more information on that in the coming days. QUESTION: The remainder of the crew, will it stay with the ship?

NATTER: The remainder of the crew will remain with the ship. We still have a ship that is very capable. And we obviously want to return that ship to full duty as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Sir, are all the notifications complete?

NATTER: That's correct. All notifications are complete.

QUESTION: Are the missing presumed to be dead? Are you still searching?

NATTER: We are not making any presumptions. We are still searching. They are missing.


NATTER: Well, first and foremost, I'd like to thank the leadership and the citizens of the Tidewater area -- Norfolk, Oceana, Virginia Beach -- for the outpouring of support for the entire Navy family here. It's very much appreciated.

We're going to go forward with a memorial service and a commemoration, a statute, tomorrow, with the full support of the officials here. And we hope that that's an appropriate commemoration for these brave sailors on the Cole.

QUESTION: Admiral, many of the families want to know when e-mail and communications with the ship will be up again.

NATTER: Well, we don't know the answer to that. The ship currently has electricity. A lot of the communications were damaged as a result of the explosion. We have encouraged the sailors to call home at their first opportunity. But obviously their first priority and their first mission is to ensure the safety of the ship and the safety of fellow crew members.

QUESTION: Can you describe the efforts to compartmentalize the damage and... NATTER: Well, every warship has compartmentation available to it. Obviously, as soon as this explosion took place, the ship and its crew performed magnificently and secured the rest of the ship. NATTER: And I don't want to go into the details of the damage, because, quite frankly, I don't know them.

QUESTION: General, how soon do you think a decision could be made as to when to move the ship, where to move it? Is that within days or weeks? Is there an effort to try to get the ship out of that hostile community?

NATTER: Yes. Jack, that decision is going to be made by the local on-scene commander and the unified CINC out there. We have tugs available, U.S. Navy tugs available in the region. We have other repair personnel who are on the scene assessing that and will take the best course of action.

QUESTION: Could you discuss the rescue effort for those that remain missing?

NATTER: Well, the rescue effort was performed primarily by the rest of the crew. We had medical personnel assigned to ship; obviously, they preformed first aid. Admiral Moore, out in Bahrain, immediately dispatched a medical assistance team, a fast team for security enhancement, and some ship repair personnel out of Bahrain to help assess the damage.

QUESTION: Can you describe roughly this -- were they mostly in the engine room, are these mostly young service persons?

NATTER: I would not want to describe where they were at the time, because, honestly I don't know. I know the region where the explosion took place. We have one officer and the rest are enlisted who are dead or missing. And you have the list with you.

QUESTION: Admiral, any plans to bring the rest of the members of the Cole home early?

NATTER: No. We have a responsibility to maintain and keep this ship safe, and the crew members will do that. We are taking a look and have asked the ship's commanding officer for what additional assistance he needs in the way of personnel. We've gotten the list from him, and we will be filling that requirement with volunteers from this area.

QUESTION: You mentioned that 19 of the injured would be going to Ramstein. And what those that lost their life, will they be going to Ramstein and then be brought to Dover or will -- what?

NATTER: There are currently 19 in the air headed for Ramstein. There may well and probably will be additional ones going there, after immediate care's prepared for them. QUESTION: What about those that lost their life? Will they be brought to Ramstein, or will they...

NATTER: Their bodies will be flown back to the United States.

QUESTION: Directly?

NATTER: That's my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: And the three that remain hospitalized, are they hospitalized there because of critical injuries and they can't be moved, or...

NATTER: That's correct, Jack. They needed to take immediate medical care of them. And once they're stabilized, the plan would be to fly them to Ramstein as well.

QUESTION: There's 22 injured? Is that the right number?

NATTER: No. I will have to get you the exact number. That has grown a little bit this morning because of some additional injuries.

STAFF: The last numbers we have were 35 injured, but that list is changing somewhat. We'll get you the most up-to-date information.

QUESTION: Sir, when you talk about missing, is it presumed missing overboard or missing somewhere in the ship that is inaccessible at this moment?

NATTER: Missing means that they're not located at this point. Once they are located, we will change their status.

QUESTION: I mean, is it a possibility that they are somewhere -- in other words, are there parts ...

HEMMER: Admiral Robert Natter, there, out of Norfolk, Virginia, letting us know that the injured, again, will be transported, at some point very soon to Ramstein airbase in Germany. In addition to that, he did indicate that the 300 crew members still onboard the U.S.S. Cole will stay with the ship. All notifications by the U.S. Navy have been made based on injuries and fatalities and the missing with the families back here in the U.S.

Prior to that, we were listening to Gary Tuchman by way of Norfolk. He also has the list of those that have been either declared dead or are still missing at this time.

Want to go back to Gary, now in Norfolk and pick things up again. Gary, pardon for the interruption there before, but we did want to get the very latest from the admiral there in Norfolk as well.

Gary, back to you now.

TUCHMAN: OK Bill, because this is such important information for people all over the world, we want to repeat the names of the seven people killed and the 10 people who are still missing.

The seven people killed:

Richard Costelo, Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Cheron Louis Gunn from Rex, Georgia. James Rodrick McDaniels, Norfolk, Virginia. Lakiba Nicole Palmer, San Diego, California. Timothy Lamont Saunders from Ringold, Virginia. Andrew Triplett from Macon Mississippi; and Craig Bryan Wilbberley from Williamsport, Maryland.

Those still listed as missing are these 10 names:

Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, Mechanicsville, Virginia. Lakeina Monique Francis from Woodleaf, North Carolina. Timothy Lee Guana from Rice, Texas. Marc Ian Nieto from Frond du Lac, Wisconsin. Ronald Scott Owens, Vero Beach, Florida. Joshua Langdon Parlett, Churchville, Maryland. Also missing, Patrick Howard Roy from Cornwall on Hudson, New York. Kevin Sawn Rux from Portland, North Dakota. And these are the two names we weren't able to mention earlier, when the news conference started: Ronchester Mananga Santiago from Kingsville, Texas; and Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr. from Rockport, Texas.

Of the people killed, two of them are from the state of Virginia and one each from Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Mississippi and Maryland. Of the 10 people missing, three of them are from Texas. One each from Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, Maryland, New York and North Dakota.

Additionally, more than three dozen U.S.S. Cole sailors were injured in the incident, and several of them are in serious or critical condition.

Bill, back to you.

HEMMER: All Right, Gary; Gary Tuchman by telephone there in Norfolk with the very latest, there. Grim details there but, indeed, we're willing to pass them along to you.

But, quite clear from that list there, the number of states -- it reaches all parts of the country today, this terrible loss from Yemen.



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