JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a somber reunion at Naval Station Mayport. Wednesday marks 30 years since the attack on USS Stark that killed 37 sailors on board.
Each year, family members and fellow sailors gather for a memorial service to honor the sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“For this to happen, it makes you open your eyes up,” said veteran Peter Weber. He remembers the moment the missiles hit.
“You could just feel the explosion from below your feet," he said. "There was nowhere to run, we were in the middle of the Persian Gulf. The smoke was so thick you either jumped overboard or put a wet towel over your face just to be able to breathe."
Fellow sailor Richard Jacobs was also on board that day. He remembers working tirelessly to save the ship.
“Three, four, five hours of sleep and back at it again," Jacobs said. "Three, four hours of sleep and back at it again, plugging holes, repairing pipes, electrical. We pulled together to save the ship and that changed the way the navy trained damage control after we were hit."
Mayport’s Memorial Park was established months after the attack with the dedication of the USS Stark Monument.
The USS Stark was decommissioned in 1999 at Mayport, and just like the brotherhood of these sailors, its legacy will live on.
“She was a good ship, you know, she kept me alive and I’ll never forget it. I never will,” Weber said.