Tom Wibberley is the father of Craig Wibberley, a 19-year-old sailor killed in the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Wibberley is one of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump’s guests for Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Craig Wibberley was among 17 people killed on the Virginia-based Navy ship when it stopped to refuel in Yemen.
Trump said last month that the leader of the attack, Jamal al-Badawi, was believed to have been killed in an air strike in Yemen.
Wibberley is one of 13 guests the Trumps have invited to the speech. Other guests include the family of an elderly couple killed by an undocumented immigrant, a young cancer survivor, survivors of last year’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, inmates granted clemency by Trump, and a boy bullied in school because his last name is Trump.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tom Wibberley is One of Trump’s State of the Union Guests
Wibberley will be one of President Trump and first lady Melania Trump’s 13 guests for the State of the Union, The White House announced Monday.
“Tom Wibberley is the father of Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, a Seaman killed on the U.S.S. Cole,” The White House said in a news release. “Craig grew up in Williamsport, Maryland, and enjoyed fly fishing, snow skiing, and working with his father on old Corvettes. He had a passion for computer science and decided to join the Navy to serve his country and pursue an opportunity to further his training in computers.”
“Craig served aboard the U.S.S. Cole with distinction and was accepted to the Navy Information Technician School,” the release said. “His commander planned to recommend him for Officer Candidate School. However, on October 12, 2000, Craig and 16 fellow members of the crew were killed in a terrorist attack. Craig was only 19. After Craig’s death, a scholarship fund was created that gives out four $1,000 scholarships each year to students studying computer science.”
2. Tom Wibberley’s Son Craig Was Just 19 When He Was Killed in USS Cole Bombing
Craig Wibberley was just 19 when he was killed along with 16 others aboard the USS Cole in a terrorist attack that occurred when the ship docked to refuel in Yemen.
Wibberley died in the October 2000 attack just months after he graduated from Washington County Technical High School.
“I was at work, somebody called me, I turned on the news, and I went home. It wasn’t too long after that, that two people from the Navy showed up,” Tom Wibberley told WDVM.
“So much I wanted to teach him, so much we wanted to do together, when I see other kids his age growing up having their families, it’s really hard,” said Wibberley.
3. Trump Declared That The Leader of USS Cole Attack Was Killed in an Airstrike
President Trump tweeted last month that the leader of the USS Cole attack had been killed in an airstrike in Yemen.
“Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole,” he wrote on January 6. “We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!”
Al-Badawi is believed to have been killed in a US airstrike in Marib, U.S. Central Command spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban told NBC News.
“U.S. forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death,” Urban told The Washington Post.
Badawi was indicted by a US grand jury in 2003 on 50 counts related to the bombing.
4. Tom Wibberley Wants Cole Bombing ‘Mastermind’ Executed
Tom Wibberley told Herald-Mail Media that no one told him of al-Badawi’s reported death before he saw it on the news.
Wibberley said “at least they got him” but expressed frustration that the attack’s alleged mastermind, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is still awaiting trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“He’s been given every right that you and I have,” Wibberley told Herald-Mail. “As far as I’m concerned, when the CIA got done with him, they should have shot him and thrown him down a well and been done with him.”
“They need to get a judge in there to put an end to it,” Wibberley said in another interview. “They’re just using our judicial system and our government is letting them do it. It’s just going to get drug out for years and it’s going to cost the government millions.”
“Why is everything so different from World War II?” he asked. “It didn’t take very long to try and convict them, and hang them.”
5. Craig Wibberley Was Honored on 18th Anniversary of USS Cole Bombing
Craig Wibberley was among those honored in October of last year, on the 18th anniversary of the USS Cole attack.
“It doesn’t get any easier for me,” Tom Wibberley said during a remembrance ceremony at his son’s grave in St. Mark’s Cemetery near Boonsboro, according to Herald-Mail. “I stay busy all the time. That’s how I deal with it.”
“There were so many people here,” he said. “Craig was a great person. He was loved by a lot of people. He had a lot of friends.”
“When we have ceremonies like this and all, it always comes back, ya know there is always something reminding me of Craig, it’s hard,” he told WDVM.