‘INBOUND MISSILE’ BY DAVE SPIVA May 17 marks 30 years since the USS Stark was hit by two missiles from an Iraqi ghter jet. The resulting explosions killed 37 crew members. Three decades later, questions about the incident remain unanswered. L 36 • VFW t. William A. Conklin was onboard the USS Stark the evening of May 17, 1987. Conklin said he had just ﬁn-ished a day’s work and tried to catch a couple hours of sleep before starting his scheduled watch at 11:30 p.m. What Conklin didn’t know at the time was two Exocet mis-siles from an Iraqi ﬁghter jet were headed toward his ship. “I was in my rack trying to go to sleep when I heard a grind-ing (noise),” Conklin said. “It’s a noise I’ll never forget.” Conklin described that sound of the missile as being like a car crash but “ﬁve times” longer and “signiﬁcantly louder.” “I thought we had hit another ship... one of those ﬁshing dhows (a sea vessel common in the Persian Gulf ),” Conklin said. “I thought we cut one in half with our ship and that it was a real mess.” Conklin said he decided to get up and “get to work” because he knew something happened. • MAY 2017 He was right. The Stark , a frigate on routine patrolling duty in the Persian Gulf, was hit by two missiles at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, 1987, about 80 miles northeast of Bahrain, the port the ship left earlier that day. The missiles hit the same spot of the ship within 30 seconds of each other, according to the Navy’s ofﬁcial report of the incident. Of the more than 200 sailors on the frigate during the attack, 37 were killed and 21 were injured. The Stark , and its crew, had been in the area for about two months when it was attacked, which likely came as a surprise to the crew since the ship was not in a designated hostel area during the incident. During this period, the Navy’s presence in the Persian Gulf had increased due to the ongoing “Tanker War” between Iraq and Iran, which had been occurring since the early 1980s.