South Adams students honor veterans

Authored by Jim Langham on Nov 11, 2013

Following the speech of U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Clifford Moser at a veterans’ program on Friday, students erupted with a supportive standing ovation that touched the hearts of all veterans present for the service.
Moser, a corpsman, was on board of the USS Cole when it came under terrorist attack on Oct. 12, 2000. He later received the USO Freedom Award for his actions in treating injured crew members. The officer took charge of examining the most seriously injured and administering first aid. His quick, heroic action unquestionably saved many lives.
The Cole had docked in Aden Harbor for a routine fuel stop, with refueling starting at 10:30 a.m. Around 11:18 (local time) a small craft approached the port side of the destroyer and an explosion occurred, creating a 40 by 40 foot gash on the ship’s port side.
The blast hit the ship’s galley where crew members were lining up for lunch.
All told, 17 sailors were killed and 39 were injured in the blast. Moser credited an “inner small voice” from his faith in Christ for his own protection through the ordeal.
Moser described the Cole as “about 505 feet long,” longer than a football field and 60 feet wide. He noted that the ship, in spite of its weight, could travel 40 miles an hour carrying a crew of 300 passengers.
“We pulled up to the dock to refuel,” said Moser. “We were pretty low in fuel so we were going to pull in and pick up about 200,000 gallons of fuel.
“It was hot that day. By 11 a.m. it was already 120 degrees outside,” observed Moser. “About 11:05 a.m. I walked down to the lunch serving line. I went into the chief area where they have an early serving. I put a couple of chicken fajitas on my plate and sat down. I had established a relationship with Jesus Christ, so I prayed for my lunch.
“I took another bite when I sensed a small voice inside that said, ‘Cliff, leave now.’ I grabbed up my plate, got up and went into the back of the chief’s mess,” continued Moser. “I heard the voice again and this time it said, ‘Cliff leave and leave right now.’ I got up and ran out; I wasn’t more than five seconds out when the explosion occurred. It threw me up in the air and I came back down.”
Moser said that in his mind he was convinced that it had been a fuel explosion. Shortly after he was to learn that terrorists had driven a small ship into the side of the Cole in a suicide action. Moser noted that within minutes water started rushing in. What was even more frightening was the fact that one third of the chiefs standing where he had been standing when he got the, “leave,” message had been killed by the attack.
Moser was especially moved by the way the entire crew pulled together to keep the ship from sinking.
“If the explosion would have been a little stronger, it could have broken the Cole in two,” said Moser.
“Relationships are so very important. Relationships are what it’s all about,” continued Cole. “When you give your all, you have nothing left. When we give all that we have, we give it all to God, you give it all to your family and you give it all to the community.”
The front of the gym was lined with pictures of local servicemen, including a special display honoring Nick Taylor. School superintendent Scott Litwiller observed that Veterans’ Day is the celebration of the end of WWI in 1918. Litwiller stated that on Nov. 11, 1921, the establishing of the liturgy at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was established.
The respectful program was energized with student involvement including high school band, high school choir and elementary reading. In addition, students Dario Banuelos, Ethan Duff, Kayla LeFever, Andrew Velasco, Holly Gaskill, Maggie Kilsby, Calyssa Lehman and David Muselman assisted with the music honoring all veterans.
Students Madison Kloepper, Christian Inniger and Collin Lahr contributed to the spirit of the program with readings.

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