Remembering Sept. 11: Disaster and response

Ask anyone old enough to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and they can probably tell you just where they were when they heard what had happened. Images of that morning have been burned into our collective memory.

But for some people in the federal IT community, the attacks and their aftermath have had a deep and lasting personal significance.

Many people lost friends and co-workers that day. Professionally, some were directly involved in the disaster recovery and response in the early days. Others found themselves taking on new responsibilities — new jobs, even — as the federal government marshaled every available resource to identify and respond to new and emerging threats to U.S. national security. The nation changed course on Sept. 11, and many people’s careers were swept up in that change.

In observance of the 10th anniversary of that day, FCW asked seven people from government and industry to share their stories — from the federal government’s initial response to the attacks, to the creation of the Homeland Security Department and the Transportation Security Administration, and finally to the battlefields of the Middle East.

As you read, keep in mind that this is just a sampling of the many remarkable stories that have unfolded in the past 10 years.

9/11 at the Pentagon: Stepping into the breach
Neal Shelley took over leadership of the Army's Information Management Support Center when the director -- and Shelley's best friend -- perished in the attack.

9/11 at the Pentagon: Like a switch was flipped
Lockheed Martin's Linda Gooden recalls the rush to respond to the attacks even as officials wondered about the safety of their employees.

9/11 at FEMA: Information on demand
Marc Wolfson recalls how quickly the public affairs staff at FEMA kicked into high gear and started posting information on the agency's website.

9/11 remembered: Building a department on demand
Steve Cooper, the first CIO at DHS, recalls how a surge of patriotism prompted him to lend his talents to the homeland security effort.

Stories of 9/11: A conference table, a sheet of paper and TSA
Patrick Schambach, the sixth employee hired at the Transportation Security Administration, recalls the daunting task of building an agency from scratch.

A nation at war: Taking tech into battle
Gen. Nick Justice says he was forever changed by his days on the ground early in the U.S. military response to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

A nation at war after 9/11: From experiment to experience
John Sklinar, a senior manager in an elite Army communications division, recalls how he got a new job the day the airplanes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

9/11: Remembering the day
Memories of the 2001 attacks are vivid for most of us. Some of FCW's readers share their stories.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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