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
37 Sailors Died at Sea
On May 17, 1987, 37 U.S. Sailors died when their ship was attacked by the Iraqis. Another and 21 were injured. The Persian Gulf tragedy, known as the Stark Attack, was an unprovoked attack on the USS Stark (FFG-31). Most of those who died were Gen Xers, born in 1961 or later.
The 25th anniversary of the attack is May 17, 2012. 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.
A Sailor Remembers the Stark Attack
“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, is 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 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.
Here are the names of the 37 sailors who died, 21 of whom were Gen-Xers.
Doran Bolduc, seaman, 29
Bradley Brown, bosun’s mate, 28
Jeffrey Calkins, fire controlman, 20
Mark Caouette, seaman, 26
John Ciletta, seaman, 21
Bryan Clinfelter, seaman recruit, 19
Antonio Daniels, operations specialist, 21
Christopher DeAngelis, electronics technician, 23
James Dunlap, communications specialist, 20
Steven Erwin, sonar technician, 22
Jerry Farr, radioman, 36
Vernon Foster, senior chief petty officer, 33
Dexter Grissette, radioman-seaman’s apprentice, 19
William Hansen, fire control technician, 22
Daniel Homicki, gunner’s mate, 36
Kenneth Janusik, operations specialist, 19
Steven Kendall, operations specialist, 30
Stephen Kiser, electronics mate, 36
Ronnie Lockett, signalman, 30
Thomas MacMullen, gunner’s mate, 30
Charles Moller, electronic warfare specialist, 27
Jeffrey Phelps, seaman recruit, 21
Randy Pierce, data systems technician, 28
James Plonsky, gunner’s mate, 22
Kelly Quick, electronics technician, 20
Earl Ryals, signalman, 25
Robert Shippee, fire control technician, 35
Jeffrey Sibley, signalman-seaman’s apprentice, 21
Lee Stephens, operations specialist, 23
James Stevens, torpedoman, 27
Martin Supple, electronics technician, 27
Gregory Tweady, fire control technician, 36
Vincent Ulmer, seaman, 21
Joseph Watson, electronic warfare specialist, 25
Wayne Weaver, electronics technician, 22
Terrance Weldon, operations specialist, 20
Lloyd Wilson, fireman apprentice, 24
“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.