25th Anniversary of the USS Stark Attack

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you
With or without you…
From U2, 1987

Survivor of the USS Stark
 USS STARK crew member Mark Wasnock in Djibouti
Wasnock survived an attack on the ship on May 17, 1987.
He was only 19-year-old at the time. 
Thirty-seven of his fellow sailors perished at sea.
Photo via InWazWeTrust Facebook Page

[Flashback Friday]

In the Persian Gulf, the 17th of May 1987, the...

On May 17, 1987, 37 U.S. Sailors died and 21 were injured in the Persian Gulf during an unprovoked attack on the USS Stark (FFG-31). They’d been fired on by the Iraqis. Most of those who died were Gen Xers, born in 1961 or later.

Next Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the attack. Survivors, families and friends will gather at a memorial service at Mayport Naval Station (Florida) to remember that terrible day and honor the memory of those who were loved and lost. Among them will be Mark Wasnock, SCPO USN (Ret), who is a USS Stark survivor. He’s written extensively about the event on his blog. Here is an excerpt: 

USS Stark “From my own personal STARK experience and I can only assume its the same for others in my “Stark-Family-Circle”, The USS STARK incident is a gamut of mixed emotions that throws me on a roller coaster ride of fear, hate, anger, guilt, pride, love, devotion, remorse, insensitivity, honor, sadness and the list goes on and on… To say the least, its a never ending struggle that takes jabs at my self-worth, pounds-away at my heart and pierces into the depths of my soul. If I didn’t force laughter into my life, I don’t know where these feelings would take me.”

Wasnock, along with some of his fellow shipmates, are trying to spearhead a memorial for the sailors who died aboard the USS Stark. You don’t have to spend much time reading his blog to realize what a defining moment this was in his young life. He was just 19-years-old at the time.

I’m reminded of that famous Gen X quote from Fight Club, which I’ve referenced many times on this blog. Our Generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives.” This does not apply to the Gen Xers who served on the USS Stark. They experienced the tragedy of real war that day.

For another Generation X perspective on the USS Stark read Dante Monte’s essay, Crossing The Gulf Into Adulthood.  

Read 25 Years Ago by a man who was on the ship and knew some of the men who died. 

Click here for a list of the names and ages of all those who died. Twenty-one of the 37 were members of Generation X.  

In Barstow, California, a street was renamed just this week in honor of Brian Clinefelter who died aboard the USS Stark.  

“Our love is for a fallen countryman, so that we, a free people, might live.”
– President Ronald Reagan, May 22, 1987, following the attack on the USS Stark. 
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2 Responses to “25th Anniversary of the USS Stark Attack”

  1. stflyfisher

    Jennifer, thanks very much for your nice words on my blog and for sharing my blog post on the Stark with your readers. I was a plankowner on the Stark – a term used for the original crew who put the ship through sea trials and commissioned her. I was the weapons officer for most of my service aboard her. I left the Navy in 1986, but knew some of the men who died in this attack. Some of them were young, some older with families. I am proud to have served on Stark and to have known the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice. My only solace today is that they live on as long as they are remembered. R. Bruns

    Reply
  2. granbee

    Jen, I am so glad you had the sensitivty and forethought to honor those fallen on our behalf on the USS Stark 25 years ago. The remarks by Mark Wasnock are so poignant in how well they honor his fallen comrades.

    Reply

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