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Bainbridge sailor serves aboard USS Cole
BY NAVY SEAMAN APPRENTICE TAYLOR A. ELBERG
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander V. Grega, a 2009 Bainbridge Island High School graduate from Bainbridge Island, is serving on one of the world’s most advanced warships, the Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole.
Grega is a fire controlman aboard the Norfolk-based ship.
Grega said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Cole’s 270 plus-member crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans.
“When it comes down to it though, the best part of my job would actually be being able to launch a missile. When it happens it is like we actually finally did something with all the years of training and practice,” Grega said.
“No matter how short it takes, it may be a 10-minute campaign task where we launch five missiles and that’s all I do in my career, it is exactly what we train for,” he added. “Our task is the most gratifying when we do it because the chances of us doing it are few and far between.”
The men and women that make up the ship’s company keep all parts of the destroyer running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the gas turbine systems.
“I guess the most challenging thing would be maintaining your systems, maintaining your equipment, maintaining yourself, your space, and maintaining your level of knowledge for your job,” Grega said. “With our job we have multiple fleets we can be in, multiple different doctrines we have to read, study, and make sure we know all the specifics.”
The Cole is an Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer and one of 62 destroyers in the Navy.
On Oct. 12, 2000 al-Qaida attacked the Cole in a suicide mission while the Cole was refueling in Aden, Yemen.
The ship has many reminders onboard of that attack including a hallway that has 17 permanent stars embedded in the floor.
The attack ripped a 40-by-60 foot hole in the port side of the ship near the crew’s dining and mess facility. Seventeen sailors lost their lives and another 37 sailors were injured during the attack.
The attack is not something sailors dwell on, however.
“In all honesty the only time I think about the history of the ship is when we explain it to people,” Grega said. “Day to day we are the history right now, I mean there are specific events like the Cole bombing and all the other campaign tasking that we have done that makes up the entire history of the ship, but I can’t speak for what that was like. This is where I work this is my job this is my family and this is my home.”
The Cole is named in honor of Marine Sgt. Darrell S. Cole, a machine-gunner who was killed in action during World War II. The ship is scheduled to deploy later this year.