US. Embassy Team in Oman Recognized For Cole Support

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

MUSCAT, Oman, Nov. 21, 2000 - Nine U.S. military members
working in the Omani embassy were recognized today for
their efforts in providing support for over 200 service
members evacuated from the USS Cole after the Oct. 12

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen praised the group for
their superlative work. He then presented the Joint Service
Meritorious Commendation Award to Army Col. Rodger Oetjen,
chief of the Office for Military Coordination in Oman.

Cohen then presented Joint Service Achievement Awards to
Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Brooks, Army Lt. Col. Robert
Felkel, Marine Corps Maj. Stephen Gorzynski, Air Force
Capt. Jeffrey Moody, Navy Chief Petty Officer Mark Shafer,
Air Force Master Sgt. William Holland, Marine Gunnery Sgt.
Alonzo Woolery and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Connolly.

The award citation noted that the Americans and their Omani
embassy counterparts worked to "expedite the safe
evacuation of sailors from the USS Cole following the
terrorist incident that disabled their ship."

The team worked with Omani officials, especially the Royal
Air Force of Oman, to plan and execute the reception and
transfer of 219 [Cole] sailors from the USS Tarawa
Amphibious Readiness Group to Thumrait Air Base in Oman,
for movement to the United States, according to the

The citation said the team's efforts "ensured the operation
met every critical mission requirement [to include:]
secrecy, enhanced force protection, expedited and seamless
logistical support, unrestricted access to Omani facilities
and airspace, and maximum flexibility."