The attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) ten years ago this October 12, was a watershed moment for the Navy and the nation. It signified that al Qaeda was now willing to attack our military capability to defend our interests worldwide. It was also a subtle shift in tactics lost on both the military and political leadership of the country. Tragically, the American people paid a heavy price eleven months later with the attacks of September 11.

Today, the military is fully engaged in a war effort to stem the tide of al Qaeda and its radical brand of Islam. As we were warned, this will be long-term fight with a determined enemy willing to die for their cause. While fortunate to date that no large-scale attacks have been successfully carried out within our borders, it is up to everyone to keep up their guard and not allow complacency to overtake the daily grind of our jobs, school and kid’s soccer games.

The crew of USS Cole rebounded from that attack and all have gone on to achieve remarkable lives for themselves – business owners, college educations, and careers within the Navy. Each possesses a unique insight into the horrors of combat the Navy has rarely seen since World War II. For the seventeen sailors that were killed that day, as well as the three shipmates we have lost since then, not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. I miss my shipmates.

This October 12, at 11:18 am the crew and families will gather in Norfolk, Virginia, to pay tribute and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. While the 10th anniversary may be significant, for those us who saved a ship from sinking and worked tirelessly to prevent our shipmates from dying, every anniversary is just as important as the last. To those who continue to serve our nation today, thank you for your service. God Bless each of our servicemen and women and the United States of America!

All the best,

Kirk




Posted by CDR Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret.) in History, Maritime Security, Navy
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  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Kirk:

    God bless the valiant crew. And for you sir, BZ.

    I have no questions for the CDR. Gen Zinni, and the Centcom Naval Component Cdr who didn’t effectively buck the idea of refueling in an essentially open and unguarded Arab port…well, I don’t expect get the chance to ask…

  • Byron

    Sir, the quick response and successful DC evolution is a testament to your training and leadership. BZ!

    Also, I was listening yesterday to Midrats and was thinking that you’d have been a fairly good CNO. Thanks for taking your precious Sunday time to talk to those of us in the cheap seats.

  • CDR Tom O’Malley, USN (Ret)

    CDR Lippold:
    Had the opportunity to attend one of your presentations while I was assigned as an instructor at SWOS in 2007. Fantastic and moving.
    Several months later as CO of Inshore Boat Unit 21 and the Commander, Task Unit UAE, I had the privilege of having my patrol boats escort COLE into Jebel Ali. Each crewmember of each patrol boat felt honored to participate. After mooring, each of them along with those who were not assigned to the escort, made the effort to go aboard and talk to the crew and pay their respects to those killed and wounded on 12 OCT 2000.
    From my personal perspective on 12 OCT 2000 I was at work at American Airlines in Boston when my wife called me with news of the attack. I knew then I would be spending most of my time back on active duty and did so until retiring this past spring. My crew presented me a shadow box that holds a Battle Ensign flown on board COLE in March, 2008 and it is one of my most treasured possessions. Thank you for your service to the Navy and the nation.
    v/r
    CDR Tom O’Malley, USN (Ret)

  • ATC (AW/SW/SP) K. R. Price

    CDR Lippold,
    The events of that day serve as a reminder of the phrase:

    “Train like you fight, fight like you train”

    I was ver young in the Navy then (Just past my 4 year mark) but I knew then that we weren’t doing that. The bombing of the Cole was a wake up call.

    The bombing was also a testament to the soundness of our ship designs. The builders and designers of DDG-51 class got it right. There were still lessons to be learned but unfortunately, with ten years past, computer simulations with unrealistic parameters seem to be at the core of ship design theories from the DC aspect. The next time an event like this happens, the crew may face a hurdle far greater the attack itself, it maybe the design of their own ship making it impossible to save their home away from home and quite possibly, their injured brothers and sisters.

    The lessons of the Cole touch every aspect of our Navy. We not only have to train our sailors to deal with such a scenario, we also make sure that our ship designs are sound enough for them to apply that training if, God forbid, our enemies attempt and succeed at a repeat.

    You and your crew that day are and always will be heroes. We should honor the memories of those lost by training our sailors and providing them with survivable platforms reduce the chance of our Nation ever having to experience such a loss again.

  • jwithington

    Sir,

    I was thinking of your speech to USNA Class of 2010 over our plebe summer as I heard your interview on NPR this afternoon. Thank your for your great demonstration of leadership.

  • Wharf Rat

    Sir:

    Thank you for your service to our country.

    On January 10, 2009, I attended the commissioning ceremony for USS George H W Bush. After touring the ship with my son, we left the ship about 3pm. We then went over to the McDonald’s to eat. On the way out, instead of heading direct to the main gate, I followed the road along the piers, looking at multiple classes of ships. I parked in one lot right in front a destoyer pier, and in front of me was the number 67, on the starbord side, aft with ‘Cole’ on the stern. A sailor in civilian clothes simply said, ‘that’s my new ship’.

    I took a picture, and have shown it to many people. They all knew the story, and they all grew quiet as they remembered.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    God Bless the US Military!

    God Bless the US Navy!

    God Bless the brave men and women of the USS Cole (past, present and future)!

    REMEMBER THE COLE!

  • Salty Gator

    CDR Lippold, first and foremost, Sir, BZ to you and your crew on surviving, responding, and saving your ship.
    I have been a part of AT/FP primarily as a collateral during my time on active duty, my time on the design team for DDG 1000 (where we were very concerned about learning from the COLE attack), to sitting at the Pentagon. I have always been amazed that most commands assign their worst and non-brightest to AT/FP in one breath, but then claim it is their “number one” priority in the next. What is your feelings on the quality of sailor and officer that is assigned “ATFP?”
    Besides the creation of NECC, what do you think we can do to make AT/FP a priority? My personal opinion is that we need to treat AT/FP responsibility and armed watchstanding the same way we treat Damage Control–start in Boot Camp / NROTC / Academy / OCS and build from their. DC and ATFP should be everyone’s responsibility.

  • Matt Yankee

    CDR Lippold,

    Sir, you have been thrust into the middle of a struggle that has unfolded without prior warning from the attack and fight to save the ship and crew to educating the country about this long war for the years ever since. Thank you for standing up and being heard and staying engaged. You continue to honor the fallen with your tenacity.

    God Bless You.

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