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-year-old 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 bed and turned on the
TV. The news was just starting......The lead story was "Explosion on the USS
Basilone". I remember I just sat there frozen for what seemed like hours, but
was only a 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 for 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 the 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 got close to the pier, but security would not
let me 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 their 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 up side 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