The USS Cole Attack: Commander Kirk Lippold’s Perspective

In 2012 Lippold wrote a book about the incident, and I spoke with him the day before the 12th anniversary of the attack.

It didn’t start with September 11th.

Almost a year before al Qaeda terrorists flew planes into buildings, suicide bombers affiliated with al Qaeda attacked the destroyer USS Cole as it was refueling in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors died in the attack.

The commanding officer of the Cole was Kirk Lippold, a 41-year-old Navy veteran. And even though an exhaustive investigation found nothing to indicate Lippold could have foreseen or prevented the attack, he was subsequently denied a promotion several times.

So here now, from 2012, Kirk Lippold.

Kirk Lippold is now 64. He works for a political marketing organization

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Colin Powell

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Dean Murphy

Robert J. Fisch

The September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington were to this generation what Pearl Harbor was to our parents and grandparents.

And as the histories of those events are written, it is essential to have contemporary eyewitness accounts.

But in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attack a New York Times reporter wanted to go beyond just simple eyewitness accounts and assemble an entire oral history of that day.

So in the months that followed, Dean Murphy painstakingly assembled an oral history which was published one year after the attack. His book was called September 11: An Oral History.

Now, while the descriptions in this interview are not in and of themselves graphic, the overall subject matter may be disturbing to some.

So here now, from September 2002, Dean Murphy.

Dean Murphy is now Associate Managing Editor at The New York Times.

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Lisa Beamer
Richard Picciotto

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Lisa Beamer

On that terrible day 20 years ago, September 11th, 2001, countless Heroes emerged.

Some wore police, fire, or military uniforms.

Some will be forever anonymous.

But many were just ordinary Americans. Like Todd Beamer, a passenger aboard United Airlines flight 93.

Their plane was already in the air that morning when the other planes went into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

And as the passengers learned what was happening, terrorists took over there playing. And soon, a group of passengers formed a bold and audacious plan to take over the plane and support the terrorist plot to slam that playing into the US Capitol or the White House.

Beamer and others made a last phone call to their loved ones. Then Beamer Was Heard telling his fellow passengers, Let’s Roll.

Their plans succeeded, with predictably tragic results – the plane crashed at 500 miles an hour into a spot near Shanksville Pennsylvania. Everyone aboard, including Todd Beamer, was killed.

The next year, with the first anniversary of the attacks approaching, Todd Beamer’s Widow Lisa published a book about her husband, and his role in that heroic day.

So here now, from August 2002, Lisa Beamer:

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