CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Twenty-three years ago, before most of us had heard of Al Qaeda, two terrorists steered a small boat full of explosives into the side of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole.
The explosion killed 17 American sailors and injured 37 more.
Kevin Rux, the son of Harrison County resident Saundra Norman, was among the fatalities. She is still waiting for the accused mastermind of the attack to go on trial.
“We can’t get closure,” said the Mt. Clare mother. “We can’t see it come to an end. Why? What is going on that it is taking so very long?”
On Oct. 12, 2000, Norman heard that her son’s ship had been attacked and raced home to turn on the TV.
“There it was,” Norman said. “That ship with that ugly hole shining through. It was just so devastating, and I hurt so much for those that they knew were gone. But I tried to have hope that Kevin was still alive.”
Days later, she was visited by a representative of the Navy.
“He came and told us they had found Kevin’s body. It was hard enough hearing that and seeing that,” said Norman. “But when his four brothers broke up and seeing what it did to them, that was very difficult also.”
Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, the man accused of planning the attack, remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. He faces the death penalty but has yet to go on trial.
“We’ve had five parents [of USS Cole sailors] who have died without seeing justice,” Norman told Nexstar’s WBOY. “We just need to get this trial going.”
She has traveled to Guantanamo Bay five times for pre-trial hearings as a series of defense attorneys have argued the evidence against Al-Nashiri is based on hearsay and torture.
“It keeps the wound open,” said Norman. “And it just doesn’t get any easier.”
According to the Department of Defense website, the next pre-trial proceedings in the Cole attack are scheduled for December.
Kevin Rux’s body is buried at the National Cemetery in Taylor County. The bridge over Interstate 79 at Saltwell Road in Harrison County has been named in his memory.