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Naval tragedy hits home

by Gail Marsh

ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR

A Bridgeport family continues to wait for news on the fate of a family member following an explosion that rocked the USS Cole destroyer in Yemen on Thursday.

Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Kevin Shawn Rux, of Portland N.D., is one of 10 American sailors listed as missing and presumed dead after suicide bombers blew up a boat next to the destroyer. The ship was docked at that time to take on fuel in a Yemeni harbor.

Seven other crew members have been confirmed dead, and 35 others were injured.

According to Bridgeport resident Saundra Flanagan, the mother of Kevin Rux, the family is "still hanging onto that thread of hope."

Flanagan said her son joined the Navy soon after graduating from Mayville-Portland High School in eastern North Dakota.

"He turned 21 in the Persian Gulf and he was going to turn 31 in the Persian Gulf," she said. His birthday was listed as Oct. 31.

Flanagan said Kevin was the third of her five sons. His father died several years ago. She said he felt that in the Navy, "you always had a friend."

"I really feel God honored me by giving me Kevin. He was a real joy in my life," his mother said.

His aunt, Joy Ust, of Finley, N.D., said, "His dad was Navy lifetime, and he was so much like his dad. He has followed his dad's footsteps all the way."

"He just re-enlisted late this summer. This was his first assignment," she said.

Rux spent 10 years in the service before leaving the Navy to try police work. He and his wife, Olivia, lived in the Spelter area last year and he worked for a time for Harris Security of Whitehall before deciding to re-enlist.

Sylvia Davis, owner of Harris Security, said Rux worked in security at the Bombardiere West Virginia Air Center at the Benedum Airport during his employment for her company.

"He was a good worker and a good guy, and he left here to go back into the service. I was very sorry to hear about what has happened," Davis said.

Rux was an electronics warfare technician on the Cole. His wife lives near where the destroyer is based in Norfolk, Va.

The Cole was heading with a crew of about 293 to the Gulf to support the U.N. embargo against Iraq at the time of the blast. There have been no claims of responsibility for the bombing, but one U.S. official said this reflected a trend among militant groups not to claim responsibility for attacks in order to elude intelligence gathering.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at gmarsh@exponent-telegram.com

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