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,