Posted: April 19, 2021 in: Pain-2-Power, Person of the Week


Today being Patriot’s Day, I am honoring Commander Kirk Lippold, USN, Ret as the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week.  Full disclosure:  The Commander is my co-founder of HELP22 and has become my friend. But that isn’t why I’m choosing him.  I’m choosing him because he exemplifies the principles of Pain-2-Power.

For those who don’t know, Kirk was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole when it came under attack by al Qaeda suicide bombers while refueling in the port of Aden, Yemen on October 12, 2000.  The blast ripped a 40-foot hole in the ship, killed 17 crew members and injured 39.  This event is widely recognized as one of the most brazen acts of terrorism by al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001.

Kirk and his crew safeguarded the warship after the attack and saved it from sinking.  But Kirk did more.  In the immediate aftermath of the kamikaze terrorist attack, having seen nearly unspeakable scenes of horribly wounded men, he organized the plan to save them.  Then he oversaw the plan to recover the remains of the dead, identify them and honor them.  Among other things, he instructed the FBI to tape an American flag carefully in place on each body bag and to remove the remains of those heroes under the watchful, loving eyes of an honor guard comprised of each lost individual’s closest, fellow crew members on the ship or that person’s closest friends on the ship.

Commander Kirk Lippold’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), in addition to various campaign and service ribbons.

Enough said?  Maybe, not.

Commander Lippold never stopped serving his country.  He served in the Navy until June, 2007.  And following his retirement, he founded Lippold Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in executive leadership development, crisis management, and national security policy.  He has appeared on every major news network speaking about critical national security issues.  And he still found the time to start HELP22 with me and our friends Christian Josi and William Fidler.

The events of October 12, 2000 are chronicled in Commander Lippold’s book, Front Burner, which was published in 2012.

I don’t know all of the ingredients that go into making men like Commander Kirk Lippold.  I don’t know what experiences galvanized his courage or his resolve or his resourcefulness or his unwillingness to quit, ever.  But I know he was the consummate patriot when we needed one on October 12, 2000.  And I know he remains the consummate patriot today, when we sorely need the kind of example he continues to provide.


Dr. Keith Ablow

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