This year marks the 25th anniversary of the USS Stark (FFG-31) "incident" (or disaster depending upon your perspective). As I write this several weeks after Memorial Day, I know that I was truly blessed that day and the subsequent years that would follow. At the tender age of seventeen, who would've thought that my first US Naval deployment would have ended in such tragedy. For whatever reason, my life was spared and for that I am truly grateful.
In the Persian Gulf, the 17th of May 1987, the USS Stark is hit by two Iraqi Exocet missiles within 30 seconds. 37 sailors are killed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I vaguely remember being asked about the reparations during the time I served aboard Stark. Apparently since the loss of life and hardware destruction was so significant, the U.S Govt decided that demanding reparations would be appropriate. Though I will not disclose the amount received, I will state that I never believed that a dime would come my way.
Obviously I was extremely surprised to have received notification that I was to provide prove of Stark service and include a note stating that I did not have an outstanding lawsuit against the Iraqi government. My curiosity was keen for sure. I really wanted to know how the amount was calculated, as it seemed rather random. Clearly no amount offered could replace the lives that were lost that faithful evening. I would imagine the bulk of the reparations were used to replace the hardware that was destroyed on the ship. I seem to recall that number to be in the millions.
I sent in my paperwork without delay and a check was cut within one week. As stated earlier, it was pleasant surprise and the funds were put to good use. I can't really complain about the amount of time it took for the reparations to be granted; nonetheless, it was rather curious to receive the notification roughly 25yrs after the disaster took place.