Remembering 9/11: Vignettes from Security Leaders Past and Present

SIMS Software gathered a touching collection of deeply personal vignettes, each capturing their contributors’ unique experiences in their own words, as we remember and pay tribute to all those we lost as a result of September 11, 2001. (Courtesy of SIMS Software)
SIMS Software gathered a touching collection of deeply personal vignettes, each capturing their contributors’ unique experiences in their own words, as we remember and pay tribute to all those we lost as a result of September 11, 2001. (Courtesy of SIMS Software)

By SIMS Software, a Premiere Sponsor of the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program

As we approach the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we thought a different and more far-reaching use of the SIMS Software Blog would be fitting.

As shared with our contributor Tom Langer, they collected personal reflections on 9/11 from current and former leaders in the security profession.

As their professional affiliations show, many of our participants also had extensive careers in government security.

We asked each leader the same three questions regarding their lasting memories from that day and how those experiences shaped their careers, how the security profession has adjusted to the changing landscape, and what advice they would have given their younger selves in preparing to take leadership roles.

The result is a touching collection of deeply personal vignettes, each capturing our contributors’ unique experiences in their own words.

Our job was to get out of the way, let them reflect, and capture those reflections for this special compilation.

We hope you find this particular blog as meaningful as we do, as we remember and pay tribute to all those we lost as a result of September 11, 2001.

(The events of 9/11 as they unfolded through actual audio of First Responders, Air Traffic Controllers, Dispatch Personnel, Airline Employees, Pilots, Citizens, Pilots, and Terrorists. Courtesy of the TSA, which has been Nominated in the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program, and YouTube. Posted on Sep 11, 2018.)


SIMS Software is honored to have the following 10 security leaders sharing their personal stories and insights in this special blog.

Mary Rose McCaffrey, Vice President of Security, Northrop Grumman
Mary Rose McCaffrey, Vice President of Security, Northrop Grumman
  • Mike Londregan, Chief Security Officer, Peraton; Former Director of Security and Insider Risk, Defense Intelligence Agency. On 9/11/2001, Mr. Londregan was serving as the Continuity of Operations and Disaster Recovery Program Manager for the Defense Intelligence Agency. His office was located in the “A” ring, second corridor, in the Pentagon.

Dan Schlehr, Vice President, Global Security Services (ret.), Raytheon Company
Dan Schlehr, Vice President, Global Security Services (ret.), Raytheon Company

Question One:

  • This September 11, we will pause and remember the magnitude of that day 20 years ago. What are your lasting memories from September 11, 2001, and how did that experience shape or dictate your career or career choices?

Ed Halibozek:

One lasting memory I have is how surprised we were that terrorists would use multiple commercial aircraft to commit such a devastating act of terror on U.S. soil.

Although we had recent experience with acts of terror committed within the U.S. (the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bombing), the use of commercial aircraft in a coordinated attack was new.

Ed Halibozek, Vice President of Security (ret.), Northrop Grumman
Ed Halibozek, Vice President of Security (ret.), Northrop Grumman

This event opened our eyes to the need to better assess and understand the threats to, and vulnerabilities of, our domestic assets against acts of terror.

It also drove us to improve our contingency planning processes beyond preparation for acts of nature to include manmade events – in particular, acts of terror.

After the events of September 11th, emergency preparedness and contingency planning were given much greater emphasis with C-suite executive support.

Moreover, the greater security community, which I believe already worked well together, seemed to become even more collaborative on matters of asset protection.

Rick Lawhorn: 

I believe my most lasting memory was watching the World Trade Center buildings on fire on TV at the office, then looking out the window and seeing the smoke coming from the Pentagon.

This was before it was announced on the news that a plane had hit there as well (I was working in Alexandria, VA at the time).

At that point, my thoughts turned to the friends, co-workers, and colleagues I had at the Pentagon.

Aerial view of the Pentagon Building located in Washington, District of Columbia (DC), showing emergency crews responding to the destruction caused when a high-jacked commercial jetliner crashed into the southwest corner of the building, during the 9/11 terrorists attacks.

There were also numerous rumors of bombs exploding throughout Washington, DC, to include the State Department where my sister worked.

Finally, I remember getting home that day and having neighbors going door to door checking on everyone, since there were many military personnel that lived in our neighborhood.

I can’t say that 9/11 had a tremendous impact on later career choices or my career, other than to make it even more clear to me that our job at DSS was to support the warfighter in any way we could.

For us, that meant stepping up our oversight efforts in cleared defense industry and finding creative ways to get companies to work securely to build the weapons systems, materials and hardware the military needed in its war efforts.

At the time 9/11 occurred, we in DSS were already attempting to refocus on core mission activities such as security reviews, accrediting classified computer systems, and expeditiously processing new facility security clearances (FCL) after failed reinvention initiatives in the 1990s. 

I would say 9/11 helped to clarify and even expedite those efforts.

Mike Londregan:

  • Leaving the house that morning and realizing halfway to work that I left my cell phone at home.

  • The ever so slight shake of the Pentagon when the plane impacted. It speaks volumes to the building’s strength literally and figuratively.

  • The orderly and calm evacuation out of corridor #2 into south parking.

  • The amount of first responders who arrived on scene in such a short window of time. Never take these folks for granted.

Mike Londregan, Chief Security Officer, Peraton
Mike Londregan, Chief Security Officer, Peraton
  • The ground-shaking explosion of the airplane’s fuel bladders and the resultant black smoke that literally blocked out the sun as we walked into south parking.

  • The inability to effectively coordinate and execute established COOP/DR plans due to the cell phone outage and bridges over the rivers in gridlock.

  • The bewilderment of people in the parking lot not knowing what happened, and the only source of info was WTOP News.

  • Running into the DIA CIO in south parking who was in shock and babbling about how the plane went right over his head before disappearing into the Pentagon.

  • Finally getting through to my wife at 11:45 using a colleague’s phone. Given the jammed networks, all I had time for was, “I’m out, I am alive and safe. I will see you when I see you.” Click.

  • The generosity of hotels and Costco in Pentagon City, who brought out pallets on forklifts loaded with water, towels, food, etc.

  • Trying to conduct accountability of personnel from just a phone roster in the business center of a Pentagon City hotel.

  • The helpless feeling when the DIA Chief of Staff told us to go home at 1700 on 9/11 after we faxed the list of 19 unaccounted DIA employees into the National Command Center inside the Pentagon, where the Director of DIA was working.

  • A long, solemn metro rail and metro bus ride out to Vienna. In an adrenaline-drained confused state, I recall there being a few people per car and only one other person on the bus.

  • Getting home at 7:30 p.m. and hugging my wife and two daughters.

  • The legal pad of 70+ names of family and friends who called my wife during the day asking about me. You never know the power of your support network until you truly need it. Never take it for granted.

  • Turning off the news and turning on some music. The song that came on was U2’s “Walk On” from their album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Look up the lyrics and it will make sense.

  • The anxiousness to get back to work at 4 a.m. the next day.

  • Walking over to the impact zone on 9/12 and feeling professional anger at my own community’s inability and unwillingness to share, collaborate, and integrate intelligence.

  • Being 50 feet away from President Bush when he pulled up to the “open wound” on 9/12 to be with the rescue and recovery workers. This was the iconic moment when first responders unfurled the large flag that stayed draped over the Pentagon until the one-year anniversary.

U.S. President George W. Bush visited Ground Zero, standing with rescue workers, firefighters and police officers atop smoldering rubble of the fallen Twin Towers, giving a speech that still echoes 20 years later. (Courtesy of YouTube)
U.S. President George W. Bush visited Ground Zero, standing with rescue workers, firefighters and police officers atop smoldering rubble of the fallen Twin Towers, giving a speech that still echoes 20 years later. (Courtesy of YouTube)
  • Attending six funerals for colleagues in the fall of 2001.

  • Holding onto the 9:34 a.m. email that our comptroller Chuck sent me as a follow-up to our phone call a few minutes before. Chuck was killed at impact at 9:37 a.m.

  • I committed to doing my part to be a collaborative contributor between IC brethren.

  • Deeper commitment to closing the information gap between national-level intelligence and federal, state, and local law enforcement.

  • I purposefully went to the ODNI at standup in 2004 to help with intelligence integration, and in 2008 served as the deputy for federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships. The purpose of the office was to close the aforementioned gap/void. Extremely rewarding.

Jeffrey Mazanec: 

Jeffrey Mazanec, Chief Security Officer, General Dynamics; former Deputy Assistant Director, FBI
Jeffrey Mazanec, Chief Security Officer, General Dynamics; former Deputy Assistant Director, FBI

America was changed forever on that day, and so was I.

In my role as a career FBI agent, who was running a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and actively working to prevent a major act of terrorism against the U.S. and its citizens running up to 9/11/01, I was tremendously impacted by the attack.

I kept saying to myself over and over that this just could not have happened. The events of that day were seismic, bigger-than-life, certainly life-altering.

I was part of the response in Washington D.C., and we worked nonstop for many months to ensure the attack was fully investigated and that there would be no follow-on attacks on U.S. soil.

And we did in fact prevent any further attacks, because of the dedication, hard work, collaboration, information sharing, and personal commitment to our national security after that fateful day.

(Two decades after the September 11 attacks, 40 percent of ground zero victims are still unaccounted for. Mark Desire, who rushed to the World Trade Center that day, explains the challenges his team of medical examiners face: “Everything that destroys DNA was present at ground zero.” He tells NBC News’ about their unwavering commitment to identifying victims. The team hopes new technological advances will help bring closure to more families. Courtesy of NBC News and YouTube. Posted on Sep 8, 2021.)

Click here for a PDF version of this SIMS Software Blog post.

Continue reading… Remembering 9/11: A Collection of 20th Anniversary Vignettes from Security Leaders Past and Present

SIMS Software to Compete in 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program

American Security Today’s ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards program is today in its Sixth Year and continues to recognize the Outstanding Innovations of top firms and agencies in the Homeland Security and Public Safety fields.

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program highlighting the most cutting-edge and forward-thinking security solutions coming onto the market today, to ensure our readers have the information they need to stay ahead of the competition, and keep our Nation safe – one facility, street, and city at a time.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administer, David Pekoske
David Pekoske, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administer

American Security Today is pleased to announce TSA Administrator  David Pekoske, will join the organization as a featured speaker at the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Presentation Luncheon, on November 18, 2021 at ISC East in New York City.

“On the heels of an unprecedented global pandemic, continued unrest in our cities and potentially catastrophic cyberattacks on our nations critical infrastructure, the focus of the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon will be on the latest, state-of-the-art innovations that are driving investments in new public security and safety technologies and systems,” said AST Editorial and Managing Director Tammy Waitt.

“As a recognized expert in crisis management, strategic planning, innovation and aviation, surface transportation and maritime security, David Pekoske’s message highlighting his top priorities and challenges for the TSA based on his years of wide-ranging experience will be critical to our attendees internalizing the critical nature of these escalating challenges, and realizing innovative new approaches to meet them.”

The 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program is Proudly Sponsored by AMAROK, Fortior Solutions  and SIMS Software, along with Returning Premier Sponsors ATI SystemsAttivo Networks, Automatic Systems, and Reed Exhibitions.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards at

Comprehensive List of Categories Include:

Access Control/ Identification Personal/Protective Equipment Law Enforcement Counter Terrorism
Perimeter Barrier/ Deterrent System Interagency Interdiction Operation Cloud Computing/Storage Solution
Facial/IRIS Recognition Body Worn Video Product Cyber Security
Video Surveillance/VMS Mobile Technology Anti-Malware
Audio Analytics Disaster Preparedness ID Management
Thermal/Infrared Camera Mass Notification System Fire & Safety
Metal/Weapon Detection Rescue Operations Critical Infrastructure
License Plate Recognition Detection Products And Many Others!
COVID Innovations And Many Others!


Don’t see a Direct Hit for your Product, Agency or Organization?

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Local transmission of the disease has occurred across all fifty states in the America.

With the unprecedented occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of the safety and security industries has realized the need to increase innovations to address the daily growing challenges.

As such AST aims to make sure these firms and professionals are reflected in the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program, so we’d like to encourage you to submit appropriate categories recommendations and include COVID-19 Frontline Professionals in your Nominations to see that these Professionals, Facilities, and Vendors receive the Recognition they Deserve!

Submit your category recommendation for consideration to Michael Madsen, AST Publisher at:

Register for the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Luncheon Today

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon featured an impassioned and compelling keynote address by William (Bill) Bratton, former police commissioner of the NYPD twice, the BPD, and former chief of the LAPD, on the history of policing in America and the evolution of critical communication capabilities in our post 9/11 landscape.

At ISC East 2021 you with the opportunity to interact with a broad array of security industry professionals.

ISC East works closely with other businesses in the security and public safety space to help bring together the Northeast’s largest security trade show each year.

In collaboration with premier sponsor SIA (Security Industry Association) and in partnership with ASIS NYC, ISC East is proud to work with and be supported by various associations, trade publications, charities, and more.

Therefore, the ISC audience of security dealers, installers, integrators, consultants, corporate, government and law enforcement/first responder practitioners will be joined by the ASIS NYC audience of major corporate managerial-through-director-level national and global security executives.

The combination of one-on-one conversations with the industry’s top innovators,  integrators and security executives, special events, high-quality education and training, and strong support from industry associations, will allow attendees to learn and evaluate solutions from leading security exhibitors and brands. 

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program surpassed expectations with a record number of nominations received from industry leaders and government agencies, and drew over 200 attendees to the ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Banquet – an exclusive gourmet luncheon and networking opportunity which filled to capacity, before having to turn away late registrants.

Your ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon registration includes complimentary attendee access to ISC East – Thank take advantage of this exclusive luncheon opportunity to take a break from the show – Invite your team, guests, clients and show visitors to a lovely and affordable plated meal event in the heart of New York City, for  a fabulous networking opportunity!

Go to to secure your seat or reserve a table.

***Limited space available so Register Today. There will be no on-site registrations.

Why American Security Today?

The traditional security marketplace has long been covered by a host of publications putting forward the old school basics to what is Today – a fast changing security landscape.

The traditional security marketplace has long been covered by a host of publications putting forward the old school basics to what is Today – a fast changing security landscape.

American Security Today is uniquely focused on the broader Homeland Security & Public Safety marketplace with over 75,000 readers at the Federal, State and local levels of government as well as firms allied to government.

American Security Today brings forward a fresh compelling look and read with our customized digital publications that hold readers eyes throughout the story with cutting edge editorial that provides solutions to their challenges.

Harness the Power of the Web – with our 100% Mobile Friendly Publications

AST puts forward the Largest and Most Qualified Circulation in Government with Over 75,000 readers on the Federal, State and Local levels.
AST puts forward the Largest and Most Qualified Circulation in Government with Over 75,000 readers on the Federal, State and Local levels.

The AST Digital Publications is distributed to over 75,000 qualified government and homeland security professionals in federal, state and local levels.


AST Reaches both Private & Public Experts, essential to meeting these new challenges.

Today’s new generation of public safety and security experts need real-time knowledge to deal with domestic and international terrorism, lone wolf attacks, unprecedented urban violence, shifts in society, culture and media bias – making it increasingly difficult for Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Military and Private Security Professionals to implement coordinated security measures to ensure national security and improve public safety.

American Security Today

These experts are from Government at the federal, state and local level as well as from private firms allied to government.

AST provides a full plate of topics in our AST Monthly Magazine Editions, AST Website and AST Daily News Alerts, covering 23 Vital Sectors such as Access Control, Perimeter Protection, Video Surveillance/Analytics, Airport Security, Border Security, CBRNE Detection, Border Security, Ports, Cybersecurity, Networking Security, Encryption, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Campus Security, Security Services, Corporate Facilities, and Emergency Response among others.

AST has Expanded readership into integral Critical Infrastructure audiences such as Protection of Nuclear Facilities, Water Plants & Dams, Bridges & Tunnels, and other potential targets of terrorism.

Other areas of concern include Transportation Hubs, Public Assemblies, Government Facilities, Sporting & Concert Stadiums, our Nation’s Schools & Universities, and Commercial Business Destinations – all enticing targets due to the large number of persons and resources clustered together.

To learn more about the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Award Winners solutions, Check Out the New 2020 ‘ASTORS’ CHAMPIONS Edition Fully Interactive Magazine – the Best Products of 2020 ‘A Year in Review’.

The Annual CHAMPIONS edition includes a review of the ‘ASTORS’ Award Winning products and programs, highlighting key details on many of the winning firms products and services, includes video interviews and more.

It is your Go-To source throughout the year for ‘The Best of 2020 Products and Services‘ endorsed by American Security Today, and can satisfy your agency’s and organization’s most pressing Homeland Security and Public Safety needs.

From Physical Security (Access Control, Critical Infrastructure, Perimeter Protection and Video Surveillance Cameras and Video Management Systems), to IT Security (Cybersecurity, Encryption, Data Storage, Anti-Malware and Networking Security – Just to name a few), the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ CHAMPIONS EDITION has what you need to Detect, Delay, Respond to, and Mitigate today’s real-time threats in our constantly evolving security landscape.

It also includes featured guest editorial pieces from some of the security industry’s most respected leaders, and recognized firms in the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program.

  • For a complete list of 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Award Winners, click here.

For more information on All Things American Security Today, and the 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program, please contact Michael Madsen, AST Publisher at

AST strives to meet a 3 STAR trustworthiness rating, based on the following criteria:

  • Provides named sources
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  • Includes supporting video, direct statements, or photos

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SIMS Software to Compete in 2021 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program