A Wife’s Perspective, by Barbara Clark
I am the wife of MM2 Steve Clark. I was in Newport when the explosion happened aboard the Basilone. This is my personal account of that horrific day. The Basilone had gone out, our 2-yearold daughter, whose birthday is February 7th, and myself had gone to visit another young Navy wife and child. At about 10:30 pm we went back to our apartment in Middletown. We had no phone but we did have a TV that worked sometimes. I got our daughter to bend and turned on the TV. The news was just starting…..The lead story was “Explosion on the USS Basilone”. I remember I had just sat there frozen for what seemed like hours, but was a only few moments. I gathered my thoughts went to my daughter, picked her up, got Steve’s picture and shirt, and just sat in the chair staring at nothing. I didn’t have a clue as to what to do next. I really didn’t know anyone, except the Navy doctor who lived in the apartment next door. I waited for him to come home and explained what had happened and he said he would call the base and let me know what was going on with the Basilone. He called, but they would not release any information. As the hours crawled by, I cried, I paced, I prayed.
From our apartment I could see the harbor and so I watched and waited or the first sign of the Basilone. I don’t even remember the exact time, but I knew I could hear helicopters…I looked and saw lights in the sky and knew they were bringing the Basilone in.
I gathered up our daughter, put her in the car and somehow drove to the base. I can’t remember even driving. I go close to the pier, but security would not let park. I tried to explain that my husband was on the Basilone, but they didn’t even want to listen. By this time fear and desperation had set in, MP or not I WAS PARKING! I grabbed our daughter, got out of the car. The MP got a little bothered and told me he could have me arrested and the car towed. I told him to do what he had to do. A Chief from another ship happened by at this time and had a “loud discussion” with the other “gentleman” and he let me go. As I approached the dock, where the Basilone was tying up, I saw something that will stay in my mind forever. There were 2 or 3 hearses pulled up on the pier and on the tailgates of these hearses were television crews with cameras ready. Finally someone gave the order for the hearses to pull away, thereby removing the vultures from there perches. Eventually I saw John Newland on deck, he waved and shouted to me that Steve was all right and would be up soon. My relief was unbelievable, and for a brief moment I was so very happy. Then the realization set in, that although my world was somewhat intact someone else’s was being turned upside down. I remember holding my daughter as tightly as I possibly could and praying for the families that would not receive the blessings that I had just gotten. Thank you all for reading a Navy wife’s account of that horrible day. I will never forget.
God Bless you all. Barbara J Clark.
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