A highlight of this year’s Evacuation and Saint Patrick’s Day festivities will be the attendance of the Captain and crew of the USS Cole at the SBCA annual banquet and participation in Parade Day activities. Th Cole is the Navy destroyer that became a famous after it was damaged in a 2000 terror attack in Yemen that left 17 sailors dead and 39 others wounded. It is scheduled to arrive at Black Falcon Pier in Southie at 8:00 AM, March 16 and will stay in port through St. Patrick’s Day weekend, organizers said. The destroyer was damaged Oct. 12, 2000, when two al-Qaeda suicide bombers used a small boat to detonate explosives next to the warship while it was refueling in the port of Aden.
“Our parade on the 18th isn’t just a parade to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but to celebrate Evacuation Day. It’s meant to honor the service of the men and women of the U.S. military,” South Boston Allied War Veterans Council Commander David Falvey said to the Boston Herald. “When you think about the sacrifice that the U.S. military has made in the war on terror, the USS Cole comes right to mind in terms of the loss of men and women of this country and their mission to continue to serve the United States.”
Falvey said the council is coordinating with local schools, the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and other community groups to make sure the symbolic destroyer arrives to the warm welcome it deserves. Visitors are asked to bring a small American flag along to welcome them.
The ship is named in honor of Marine Sgt. Darrell S. Cole, a machine-gunner killed while serving in Iwo Jima during World War II.The ship’s motto is “Glory is the Reward of Valor.” Despite being seriously damaged in the 2000 attack, the USS Cole returned to service in 2003 and is still protecting the United States today. “The fact that the ship is coming, and it is still in service is something we’re proud of,” Falvey said. “Just to have them in the city and for them to be honored by the city of Boston — that’s what we’re looking for. Boston is a proud American city. This gives this city an opportunity to honor the sailors of the USS Cole.”
The council’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled to begin on West Broadway at 1 p.m. March 18.