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CNN Today

Attack on the Cole: Parents of Missing Sailor Help Wounded

Aired October 16, 2000 - 1:48 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Not all of the sailors, the victims, of the attack on the USS Cole have been accounted for. Continuing anxiety in Virginia at the medical center where Charles Zewe now joins us with another report.

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, here outside the medical center where the surviving crewmembers of the Cole are undergoing psychological counseling, they were joined by John and Gloria Clodfelter, from Mechanicsville, Virginia. Their son, Kenneth, who is also known as Cooter, the 21-year-old seaman who is missing and presumed dead.

You are far from being downcast though. I have been struck by talking to you here about how upbeat you are about the situation.

GLORIA CLODFELTER, MOTHER OF MISSING SAILOR: Well, I wanted to see the other guys that were on the ship and welcome them home. And we brought little prayer angels for them and to let them know how much we are glad that they made it and God had given them a second chance and that don't stop praying and don't stop giving up hope on the ones that are missing.

And because, I am sorry to say but the media has already buried my son and the others as well as the other families that are missing. It is just torment on us. because, it's like being terrorized here at home by terrorists. You know, that you are saying: we'll he's dead. Thursday he was missing, Friday he was presumed dead, Saturday he was. And you know, I haven't heard anything, so I'm not going to give up.

ZEWE: In your heart of hearts, what does your mother's heart tell you about this.

GLORIA CLODFELTER: My mother's heart tell's me that he's probably gone. But, my closure will be having something come home to me and I know there's a possibility that he's been in the water the whole time. They said there were some chambers where there's no oxygen going into them. They could have suffocated or, the worse scenario, when the bomb hit, he was blown to pieces. So, they have to know who they have before they can tell us I know anything definite about the missing. And -- but I just keep having a dream that he's sitting in a room somewhere just needing a dip real bad, you know, so that's what I keep hoping that he'll say: Where have you been? I need a dip. But,that would be him. He would look at the positive side of everything and I... JOHN CLODFELTER, FATHER OF MISSING SAILOR: The thing is we are not going to be giving up on Kenneth, not until the Navy comes back saying: Hey, we have found him, this is his condition. Because then we know what we have to do next.

ZEWE: What have you been asking his shipmates up there about him?

GLORIA CLODFELTER: We made a deal. We did with one and I said, nope, we're not going to do that. I am not going to ask where he was or if they saw him last or what they know about him. I just wanted to hug each one of them and give them the little gift from us, from the family and just tell them that they've been given a second chance, I'm so glad they made it back and give them a big hug and a kiss. And oh God, I almost had broken ribs today because they were just hugging me so tight, bless their hearts.

JOHN CLODFELTER: They had good words to say about Kenneth, though, all of them did.

GLORIA CLODFELTER: Every one of them that knew him, they just, oh that was a good old boy.

ZEWE: You told me he was also a prankster though.

GLORIA CLODFELTER: Yes, he loved jokes and he was always sending us e-mails of jokes and things. Man, I'm not supposed to say that. But he would always make it fun back here for us so we wouldn't be missing him so much.

ZEWE: As parents how do you deal with a tragedy like this?

GLORIA CLODFELTER: Well, it is kind of hard but we are the Murphy Law family, where, if it is going to happen, it is going to happen to us. I was pregnant with Kenneth when I lost my first son to a drowning, accidental drowning. And he was my salvation. And now my youngest son has gone into the Marines. My step-daughter is in the Navy. And as you know, Kenneth was in the Navy. He's retired from the services. And so, we are just one big military family and right now I have a little nephew that has had a brain tumor and he's recovering from that. You know, it's just different things that have hit us. And the best way I can describe it is, you can sit down and be miserable and think the worst thoughts but get up, brush yourself off, and help the ones that have made it and been there. You know, and that to me, he's looking down on me and this what he knows I'm doing for him.

JOHN CLODFELTER: That's how we get through it is by helping the others right now.

GLORIA CLODFELTER: Being there for them.

ZEWE: John and Gloria Clodfelter from Mechanicsville, Virginia, their son still missing.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Portsmouth, Virginia. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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