Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

USS Cole Navy and Marine Corps Medals

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

  1. FIGUEROA, HECTOR E., Signalman Second Class (Surface Warfare), USN
  2. HAYES, MICHAEL L., Hull Maintenance Technician First Class (Surface Warfare), USN
  3. KAFKA, ERIC S., Chief Boatswain's Mate (Surface Warfare), USN
  4. REGAL, CHRISTOPHER M., Hull Maintenance Technician First Class (Surface Warfare), USN

alt=

Signalman Second Class (Surface Warfare) Hector E. Figueroa, USN

For heroism while serving as leading signalman in connection with a terrorist attack onboard USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Petty Officer Figueroa displayed extreme heroism in the face of imminent danger by the rescue of two shipmates, saving them from further injury and probable death. Immediately following the explosion and uncertain of the possibility of more explosions or the extent of damage, he saw a severely injured shipmate and immediately rescued him from the rapidly flooding food storage decks. When informed about another injured Sailor in the same area, he courageously returned inside the skin of the ship, descended three decks, entered a rapidly flooding space and successfully rescued a second severely injured shipmate. He carried both Sailors topside for much needed medical attention and evacuation off the ship. Petty Officer Figueroa's heroic and unselfish actions were an inspiration to all who observed him. By his courageous and prompt actions in the face of grave personal danger, Petty Officer Figueroa was undoubtedly instrumental in the saving of lives, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Return to top of page.

alt=

Hull Maintenance Technician First Class (Surface Warfare) Michael L. Hayes, USN

For heroism while serving as a hull technician in connection with a terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Uncertain of the danger and at great personal risk, Petty Officer Hayes hastened to the scene of the attack to direct emergency actions. He quickly assessed the damage and ascertained locations of trapped and injured personnel and confidently led emergency response teams in rendering lifesaving assistance. When rescue efforts were completed, Petty Officer Hayes spearheaded dewatering measures in Auxiliary Machinery Room Number One and he was integral to the shoring and bulkhead shaft seal plugging actions in Main Engine Room Number Two. He courageously led his damage control teams through more than 96 hours of sustained damage control efforts. Petty Officer Hayes' decisive actions guaranteed the structural integrity of engine room bulkheads, contained thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, isolated damaged electrical distribution systems that threatened to set the ship ablaze, and prevented the ship from sinking. During 19 days of work in extreme heat and unbearable stress, he continued to systematically repair damage, shore bulkheads, fight flooding, and restore a host of critical services that allowed the ship to move safely out to sea. By his courageous and prompt actions in the face of grave personal danger, Petty Officer Hayes was undoubtedly instrumental in the saving of lives and stabilizing the ship, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Return to top of page.

alt=

Chief Boatswain's Mate (Surface Warfare) Eric S. Kafka, USN

For heroism while serving as the ship's leading boatswain's mate in connection with a terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000. Having been perilously close to the explosion, Chief Petty Officer Kafka suffered severe injuries to his knee ligaments and lungs. Despite these painful wounds, confusion caused by the blast, and poor visibility due to smoke and a loss of electricity, he managed to free himself from the debris, don a self contained breathing apparatus, and provide emergency services to trapped and injured shipmates. Making his way through the heart of the damage en route Repair Locker Five, Chief Petty Officer Kafka single-handedly freed one Sailor from a mass of twisted metal. He broke into Repair Locker Five, crushed as the result of the blast, to obtain emergency lighting, and then he returned to the Chief Petty Officers' Mess where he attended to dozens of shipmates who were injured and unconscious. Following removal of the injured personnel to triage areas topside, he assumed duties as Repair Locker Two investigator, where he played a critical role in limiting progressive flooding, containing thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, and isolating damaged electrical distribution systems that threatened to set the ship ablaze. By his courageous and prompt actions in the face of grave personal danger, Chief Petty Officer Kafka was undoubtedly instrumental in the saving of lives and stabilizing the ship, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Return to top of page.

alt=

Hull Maintenance Technician First Class (Surface Warfare) Christopher M. Regal, USN

For heroism while serving as a hull maintenance technician in connection with a terrorist attack upon USS Cole (DDG-67) from 12 to 31 October 2000. Uncertain of the danger and at great personal risk, Petty Officer Regal hastened to the scene of the attack to direct emergency actions. He quickly assessed the damage and ascertained locations of trapped and injured personnel. Petty Officer Regal penetrated a crumpled bulkhead to gain access to the Chief Petty Officers' Mess and he repeatedly led emergency response teams into the extensively damaged, smoke-filled space to free trapped personnel and render lifesaving assistance. When rescue efforts were completed, he spearheaded the shoring and bulkhead shaft seal plugging actions in Main Engine Room Number Two. Petty Officer Regal's decisive actions guaranteed the structural integrity of engine room bulkheads, contained thousands of gallons of leaking fuel oil, isolated damaged electrical distribution systems that threatened to set the ship ablaze, and prevented the ship from sinking. During 19 days of work in extreme heat and unbearable stress, he continued to systematically repair damage, shore bulkheads, fight flooding, and restore a host of critical services that allowed the ship to move safely out to sea. By his courageous and prompt actions in the face of grave personal danger, Petty Officer Regal was undoubtedly instrumental in the saving of lives and stabilizing the ship, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Return to top of page.

Published: Fri Oct 02 13:27:01 EDT 2020