Veterans

May 20, 2016
 

Mayport, Fla., remembers fallen shipmates at Stark Memorial

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Smn. Michael Lopez
Jacksonville, Fla.

Sailors from Naval Station Mayport’s color guard parade the colors during the guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG 31) remembrance ceremony at the ship’s memorial. On May 17, 1987, while on a routine patrol in the Persian Gulf, USS Stark was struck by two Iraqi missiles killing 37 Sailors. Despite the damage inflicted, the efforts of the Stark’s crew saved the ship. Stark was later decommissioned in 1999.

Sailors held a ceremony of remembrance at Naval Station Mayport, May 17, to honor Sailors who were killed aboard guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG 31) 29 years ago.

On May 17, 1987, while on patrol in the Arabian Gulf, 37 Sailors died when two Iraqi missiles struck Stark. Despite the severe damage inflicted, the heroic efforts of Stark’s crew saved the ship. Stark was decommissioned at Mayport in 1999.

Surviving crew members attended the annual ceremony, including retired Chief Operations Specialist Larence Barrow, who spoke about what remembering the tragedy means to him.

“There’s such a catharsis, and you learn that everyone else shares the same feelings, and it’s a camaraderie,” Barrow said. “It’s a healing ceremony for us to meet with the families, to share the stories and reminisce. We need that.”

Capt. Wesley McCall, commanding officer of Naval Station Mayport, speaks during the guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG 31) remembrance ceremony at the ship’s memorial. On May 17, 1987, while on a routine patrol in the Persian Gulf, USS Stark was struck by two Iraqi missiles killing 37 Sailors. Despite the damage inflicted, the efforts of the Stark’s crew saved the ship. Stark was later decommissioned in 1999.

This year’s memorial included the donation of Stark’s original stern plate from Janna Ryals, a Navy veteran and sister to Signalman (striker) Seaman Earl Ryals, who died in the attack.

“This shows that we’re still respecting and honoring not only the men who died that day, but the ones that are still alive,” said Ryals.

Ryals said she originally wanted to keep the stern plate at home with her to remember her brother, but she had a change of heart and realized sharing it was the best thing she could do for Stark’s crew. The stern plate will now be on display Naval Station Mayport.

“I did lose my brother, but through this I’ve gained several other shipmates,” said Ryals.

This year’s rememberance was hosted by NS Mayport’s Second Class Petty Officers Association (SCPOA). First-year SCPOA member, Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class Jeffery Meade said he was happy to be associated with such a historic event.

Clifford Cellars, a former crew member of the guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG 31), rings one bell for each of his 37 fallen shipmates who were lost on May 17, 1987 when the ship was struck by two Iraqi missiles during a routine patrol in the Persian Gulf.

“I think it’s important that we preserve this tradition because the Stark was homeported in Mayport,” he said. “There are many family members of the crew who still live in the area, and it means a lot to them that we do this.”

Mayport Memorial Park was established Aug. 1, 1987, with the dedication of the Stark monument and will continue to honor this memorial every May 17.

Those killed were:

  • SN Doran H. Bolduc, Lacey, Wash.
  • RMSA Dexter D. Grissett, Macon, Ga.
  • FCCS Robert L. Shippee, Adams Center, N.Y.
  • BM1 Braddi O. Brown, Calera, Ala.
  • FC3 William R. Hansen, Reading, Mass.
  • MSA Jeffrey C. Sibley, Metairie, La.
  • FC3 Jeffrey L. Calkins, Richfield Springs, N.Y.
  • GMG3 Daniel Homicki, Elizabeth, N.J.
  • OS3 Lee Stephens, Pemberton, Ohio
  • SN Mark R. Caouette, Fitchburg, Mass.
  • OSSN Kenneth D. Janusik, Jr., Clearwater, Fla.
  • TM2 James R. Stevens, Visalia, Calif.
  • SN John A. Ciletta, Jr., Brigantine, N.J.
  • OS1 Steven E. Kendall, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • ET3 Martin J. Supple, North Olmsted, Ohio
  • SR Brian M. Clinefelter, San Bernardino, Calif.
  • EMCS Stephen Kiser, Elkhart, Ind.
  • FC1 Gregory L. Tweady, Champaign, Ill.
  • OS3 Antonio A. Daniels, Greeleyville, S.C.
  • SM1 Ronnie G. Lockett, Bessemer, Ala.
  • ET3 Kelly R. Quick, Linden, Mich.
  • ET3 Christopher DeAngelis, Dumont, N.J.
  • GMM1 Thomas J. MacMullen, Darby, Penn.
  • SN Vincent L. Ulmer, Bay Minette, Ala.
  • IC3 James S. Dunlap, Osceola Mills, Penn.
  • EW3 Charles T. Moller, Columbus, Ga.
  • EW3 Joseph P. Watson, Ferndale, Mich.
  • STGSN Steven T. Erwin, Troy, Mich.
  • DS1 Randy E. Pierce, Choctaw, Okla.
  • ET3 Wayne R. Weaver, II, New Bethlehem, Penn.
  • RM2 Jerry Boyd Farr, Charleston, S.C.
  • SA Jeffrei L. Phelps, Locust Grove, Va.
  • OSSN Terrance Weldon, Coram, N.Y.
  • QMCS Vernon T. Foster, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • GM3 James Plonsky, Van Nuys, Calif.
  • IC2 Lloyd A. Wilson, Summerville, S.C.
  • SMSN Earl P. Ryals, Boca Raton, Fla.

 

Sailors escort family and former crew members of the guided-missile frigate USS Stark (FFG 31) as they lay a wreath on Stark memorial plaque during a remembrance ceremony at Naval Station Mayport.




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