Saturday, October 14, 2000

Shock, sadness take over on
planned day of celebration

By Anthony Burgos
Sigonella bureau

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Sicily — On what should have been a day of pride and celebration — the 225th birthday of the U.S. Navy — sailors reading newspapers and seeing televised photos of the devastating damage aboard the USS Cole were instead shocked and saddened Friday morning by a terrorist attack.

At Sigonella, Petty Officer 1st class Sean Storms expressed sorrow for the families of the sailors aboard the ship. "I saw footage of family members crying on television. I was sickened at how insensitive that was," he said.

Storms, a former crewmember on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, said the attack was something he never thought could happen to one of the newest ships in the Navy.

The attack left Petty Officer 1st class Paul Schnur, another sailor at Sigonella, dismayed.

"I was shocked at how bold it was to go against one of our warships," he said.

Schnur, a former crewmember on the USS Ogden, USS Proteus and USS Mount Baker, said ships frequently make unannounced port visits for refueling. "I don’t know how [terrorists] could have been there. This was an incredibly isolated incident, but it might completely change the way we do business."

A fellow sailor in Naples, Italy, echoed Schnur’s sentiments.

"I’m concerned now about whether we can trust the boats that are contracted to help us tie up the ships" said Petty Officer 1st class Joe Cassell. As part of the Port Operations department in Naples, Cassell deals with ships that pull into port all the time. "Obviously none of us wants to see our fellow shipmates get killed or injured."

Another Naples sailor said the incident aboard the USS Cole is an unfortunate reality that military members have to deal with.

"It definitely makes you more aware because you never know when something like this is going to happen. It can happen anytime, anywhere," said Lt. Scott Norton, the air terminal officer at the Navy base in Naples.

"It’s horrible, and I’m very angry," said Petty Officer 3rd class Richard Bowman, assigned to the Air Operations department in Naples. "I’m going to be more aware of my surroundings and watching people. I’m just generally going to be more careful."

Contributing to this report: staff writer Keith Boydston in Naples.