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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Cole Meritorious Service Medals

The following individuals received the Meritorious Medal for their actions in the aftermath of the 12 October 2000 terrorist attack on USS Cole.

  1. COURTNEY, DEBORAH W., Lieutenant Commander, USN
  2. GRABELLE, JASON, Lieutenant (Junior Grade), USNR
  3. MERCHEN, WILLIAM Z., Damage Controlman Third Class, USN
  4. MOSER, CLIFFORD A. Chief Hospital Corpsman (Surface Warfare), USN
  5. PELLY, GOFFERY J. Chief Storekeeper (Surface Warfare), USN
  6. PETERSCHMIDT, JOHN C., Lieutenant Commander, USN
  7. POWELL, SEAN H., Damage Controlman Fireman, USN
  8. RUECKERT, DAVID L., Torpedoman's Mate First Class (Surface Warfare), USN

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Lieutenant Commander Deborah W. Courtney

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as engineer officer in connection with the terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Following the explosion, Lieutenant Commander Courtney hastened to the Central Control Station to direct engineering plant casualty control procedures and to coordinate the initial damage control response. Her confident and decisive actions, instinctive due to discipline and training, limited progressive flooding that endangered the ship, contained thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, and isolated damaged electrical distribution systems that threatened to set the ship ablaze. Lieutenant Commander Courtney superbly led repair teams through more than 96 hours of sustained damage control efforts. Her innovative damage control measures and aggressive restoration of engineering systems dramatically increased habitability throughout the ship. During 19 days of work in extreme heat and unbearable stress, she systematically restored two-thirds of the ship's electrical generation capacity, air conditioning, lighting, and a host of critical services that allowed the ship to move safely out to sea. By her courageous actions, personal initiative, and complete dedication to duty, Lieutenant Commander Courtney reflected great credit upon herself and upheld the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.

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Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Jason Grabelle

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as auxiliaries officer in connection with the terrorist attack upon the USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000. Ignoring the risk to himself, Lieutenant (j.g.) Grabelle hastened to the scene of the attack to render assistance. He courageously took charge of crewmembers exiting the blast area and assembled them into repair and rescue teams, and sent them into action. He provided the authoritative direction needed to overcome the loss of many key leaders due to injury. Lieutenant (j.g.) Grabelle’s responsive and accurate information, gathered despite the presence of thick smoke, sparking electrical cables, lack of lighting, and thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil were critical to the implementation of damage control measures. While personally searching the galley area, he discovered a trapped Sailor.  Selflessly, he gave the crewmember his own self contained breathing apparatus and then he hung by his feet from the twisted wreckage to extract her from her snare. Lieutenant (j.g.) Grabelle’s courage, personal initiative, and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Damage Controlman Third Class William Z. Merchen

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as a damage controlman in connection with the terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000. Ignoring the risk to himself, Petty Officer Merchen hastened to the scene of the attack to render assistance. He repeatedly led emergency response teams into the extensively damage, smoke-filled Chief Petty Officers’ Mess to free trapped personnel and render lifesaving assistance. Despite the presence of thick smoke, sparking electrical cables, lack of lighting, and thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, he assisted in rescuing Sailors from the demolished galley area. Petty Officer Merchen played a critical role in dewatering measures in Auxiliary Machinery Room Number One and, undeterred by the potential for a catastrophic collapse, he worked feverishly to shore the bulkhead and plug the shaft seal in Main Engine Room Number Two. His decisive and courageous actions were instrumental in saving dozens of crewmembers, containing the flooding and preventing the ship from sinking. Petty Officer Merchen's courage, personal initiative, and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Chief Hospital Corpsman (Surface Warfare) Clifford A. Moser

For outstanding meritorious achievement as independent duty corpsman following a terrorist attack onboard USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Chief Petty Officer Moser rendered life saving medical treatment to over 30 of USS Cole's injured crewmembers under extremely adverse conditions. His quick thinking and presence of mind was directly responsible for numerous saved lives. Despite severe injuries, which ranged from lacerations to multiple fractures, Chief Petty Officer Moser acted as the leading triage officer on scene and ensured patients were monitored, treated, and stabilized for necessary further transport to area hospitals. Amidst the confusion and uncertainty of repeated attacks, his composure was calm and inspiring. In addition, in the following days onboard, he watched for signs of post-traumatic stress, intervening when necessary, administered malaria medication, treated Sailors suffering from gastronintestinal disorders due to poor environmental conditions, and conducted a medical inventory of supplies. His commitment to the Navy and to the health of his crew was unswerving. His superb and unselfish contributions were an inspiration to all who observed him. By his brave actions, tireless energy, and complete devotion to duty, Chief Petty Officer Moser reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Chief Storekeeper (Surface Warfare) Goffery J. Pelly

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as Leading Storekeeper in connection with the terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000. Ignoring the risk to himself, Chief Petty Officer Pelly hastened to the scene of the attack to assess damage and render assistance. Despite the presence of thick smoke, sparking electrical cables, lack of lighting, and thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, he thoroughly searched the galley area for missing and injured crewmembers. Upon locating a critically wounded Sailor whose legs were pinned, Chief Petty Officer Pelly wedged himself between a mass of twisted metal and exposed electrical cables to reach her. While comforting her and assuaging her fears, he devised an ingenious plan to free the trapped Sailor without the need for amputation. With relentless determination, he organized a team and engineered a means to lift the heavy, mangled grill off of the injured crewmember, saving both life and limb. He continued his tireless efforts throughout the day, locating wounded Sailors, escorting them to Battle Dressing Stations, and performing necessary first aid. Chief Petty Officer Pelly’s courage, personal initiative, and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Lieutenant Commander John C. Peterschmidt

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as executive officer in connection with the terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Lieutenant Commander Peterschmidt courageously took charge of crewmembers exiting the blast area, assembled them into repair and rescue teams, and sent them into action. Demonstrating extraordinary presence of mind, he prioritized and implemented decisive responses to control flooding, clear smoke, and assess damage. By his exceptional leadership and technical expertise, he provided the authoritative direction needed to overcome the loss of many key leaders due to injury. Lieutenant Commander Peterschmidt directed movement of wounded Sailors to a makeshift triage area on the flight deck where he supervised medical care, prioritized evacuations, and ingeniously organized crewmembers into a “walking blood bank.” He superbly led his crew through more than 96 hours of sustained damage control efforts, and he provided inspirational leadership in an extremely hostile environment. Over the course of the next 19 days, despite extreme heat and unbearable stress, Lieutenant Commander Peterschmidt worked tirelessly to provide for the crew’s well-being. By his courageous actions, personal initiative, and complete dedication to duty, Lieutenant Commander Peterschmidt reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Damage Control Fireman Sean H. Powell

For outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as a damage controlman in connection with the terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000. Ignoring the risk to himself and notwithstanding a severely sprained foot that he suffered in the explosion, Fireman Powell hastened to the scene of the attack to assess damage and render assistance. Despite the presence of thick smoke, sparking electrical cables, lack of lighting, and thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, he repeatedly led emergency response teams into the extensively damaged Chief Petty Officers' Mess to free trapped, injured, and unconscious personnel. Although he had not donned a self contained breathing apparatus and had not yet received medical attention for his injuries, Fireman Powell continued his tireless efforts until all wounded personnel were extracted to safety. His decisive actions saved the lives of dozens of crewmembers. Fireman Powell's courage, initiative, and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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Torpedoman's Mate First Class (Surface Warfare) David L. Rueckert

For outstanding meritorious achievement following a terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Immediately following the attack, Petty Officer Rueckert disregarded his personal safety and responded decisively. He maintained his calm and directed many confused and disoriented Sailors topside away from immediate danger. Petty Officer Rueckert then carried several severely injured crewmembers away from areas surrounding the explosion to safety, ignoring thick smoke and noxious vapors that hung in the air. He performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on one of the most severely wounded members of the crew, saving his life. During the weekend immediately following the blast, USS Cole began to take on water in the pre-dawn blackness. Petty Officer Rueckert again showed his decisiveness by assisting in the rigging of dewatering equipment in the trunk above Auxiliary Machinery Room Number Two. He dedicated himself to the process of making the ship stable and played an integral role in shoring several critical bulkheads adjacent to the damaged and flooded spaces. His courage following the devastating attack saved several lives and kept USS Cole afloat. By his unswerving initiative, tireless energy, and complete devotion to duty, Petty Officer Rueckert reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Published: Tue Oct 13 14:42:29 EDT 2020