Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday sent a message to the fleet asking for a moment of silence on Oct. 12, at 11:18 a.m. to honor the Sailors who died, and who bravely saved their ship after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67) 20 years ago.

Below is the text of his message: 

At 11:18 a.m., local time, on Oct. 12, 2000, the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) was the target of a suicide attack by terrorists during a routine refueling stop in Yemen’s Aden Harbor. Seventeen U.S. Navy Sailors were killed and 37 were injured in the blast, which tore a 40-by-60 foot hole in the ship’s hull. The crew of Cole fought valiantly for more than 96 hours to save their ship and shipmates. Their actions are the reason why Cole remains a vital part of our Navy today.

As a Navy, it is important, and I am directing that we observe a moment of silence at 11:18 a.m. (local) that day to recognize the twentieth anniversary of this attack. We will pause to remember those who were tragically lost, pay tribute to the heroic actions of the crew, and reflect on our responsibility to carry their proud legacy forward.

Twenty years later, it is important to recognize how these acts of bravery and heroism were nothing short of extraordinary. Immediately following the blast and uncertain of the possibility of further explosions, Cole Sailors courageously ran to the scene and rescued severely injured and trapped shipmates, saving them from further injury and probable death. Well-organized and disciplined despite the chaotic conditions, they prevailed through 96 hours of sustained damage control efforts by dewatering the ship, plugging the inrush of further flooding, shoring ship’s structures, and securing exposed electrical power sources. The example set by the Cole Sailors is clear: a well-trained crew, even after a devastating blow, can rise to the occasion and save their ship.

The 17 Sailors who gave their lives that day are, no doubt, heroes. When their country called, they answered. And, for that, we are eternally grateful. Our responsibility is to honor them by remembering their sacrifices and ensuring they are never forgotten. The most powerful way to honor these sacrifices though, is our Navy’s continued demonstration of resolve in the face of threats to our nation and its citizens.

For Sailors today, you should embrace your responsibility to honor the legacy of the Cole heroes. Their actions epitomized our Navy’s fighting spirit, heroism, toughness, selfless sacrifice, and tenacious resolve to never give up. They carried forward our Navy heritage of fighting with Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Using their example as a guide, I am confident our Navy’s proud legacy will live on for generations to come.

Our Navy is second to none. The American people count on you and so do I. Honored to be your CNO.