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President's Message - September 11, 2014

Remembering Lenny Hatton & John O'Neill
President's Message - September 11, 2014


On September 11th, the world changed. As we acknowledge the anniversary, Society members can stand tall knowing the FBI has dramatically strengthened our Nation’s ability to combat terrorism. The FBI's top priority is to protect America from terrorist attacks. In this changed world, the threat remains real and urgent. 

That day was a pivotal point in American history. We pause to remember all of the victims of that horrific day and all who have lost their lives since in the fight against terror. The murders of innocent Americans on our home soil necessitated that the United States adopt a war footing and implement a proactive national security strategy to address the global terrorist threat. We thank our on-duty FBI colleagues, along with others in the military, law enforcement, and intelligence communities, who have worked hard to make America safer in the days and years since 2001.

Every day, we honor the heroes in our FBI Family. This week, we reserve special thoughts and prayers for our 9/11 heroes -- Leonard W. Hatton, Jr. and John P. O’Neill.

We remember Lenny as the Special Agent who was on his way to work when he saw billowing smoke and fire in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His last act was to go there -- to move toward danger -- and to help in the evacuation effort to save lives. The FBI and the nation have recognized his selfless, heroic actions in the line of duty. A former Marine, Lenny was a volunteer firefighter, task force member, accomplished crime-scene examiner, and certified bomb technician. Lenny entered on duty with the FBI in 1985 and was just 45 years old at the time of his death. A wife and four children survive him. Lenny was awarded the FBI Medal of Valor and Memorial Star.

We remember John as the newly retired Special Agent who had just begun his new career as head of security at the World Trade Center. Although he escaped from his office in the North Tower after it was struck, he died later while helping others to evacuate. In his career, John was integral to a number of counterterrorism investigations that included the first World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, the bombing of the USS Cole, and attacks in Saudi Arabia and Africa. John served 25 years in the FBI and was just 49 years old at the time of his death. Family members who include a son and a daughter survive him. John was awarded the FBI Award for Meritorious Achievement.

While their career trajectories were very different, both Lenny and John had served together on the terrorism battlefield before September 11th. Lenny was part of the team sent to Tanzania after the Embassy bombings, and, later, he went to Yemen after the USS Cole bombing; John was deeply involved in both cases and was in Yemen leading the USS Cole investigation. 

Until their last breaths, Lenny and John served our nation proudly and well. Borrowing John’s words to the father of a USS Cole sailor, we offer them now in remembrance: “God bless you, your loved ones, the families, and God bless America.”

More information on Lenny or John can be found here:

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