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
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
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:
“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.