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  3. 9/11 Stories: I Was Supposed to Be on American Airlines Flight 77

9/11 Stories: I Was Supposed to Be on American Airlines Flight 77

Release Date: September 10, 2021

Deborah Villoch, CISA

When people ask me, what is my motivation to work with DHS? My reply is short, 9/11.

I came to DHS after 9/11 thankful for being here today. I was blessed, when at the time, I canceled a reservation I had to fly on American Airlines flight 77 out of Dulles Airport on September 11, 2001.

At the time, I worked as airline Duty Manager & International Flight Coordinator, and was unable to make that flight to LAX, which was tragically impacted on 9/11. That date, while working at IAD, we got called to respond to “AA77 is down.” I screamed “God have mercy of all those people on the fight.” I rushed to go to Pentagon with the first responder’s airport team, arriving to see flames burning and that morning beautiful clear blue sky, turned into smoke. A nightmare of a day. Not only from what I witnessed at the Pentagon, but also to find out later that I lost family members in the twin towers in New York.

As this event has significantly impacted my life, when I was approached to support the DHS mission, it was this event that motivated me to work here. I did not think twice. I jumped in as a contractor and shortly after was hired directly as a federal employee and have been here since. It is an honor to see firsthand all the improvements and evolution in supporting our Nation at all levels.

I served at the Aeronautical Systems Industry, and working with Homeland Security, and seeing the evolution of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) evolve to our proudly established Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It makes me proud to have been here and be able to provide a little seed that continues to grow throughout our Nation.

There is much more to say, but for now, thank you for your service. To all the public servants, first responders, military personnel and families, for continuing supporting and protecting our Nation. God bless us all!

Last Updated: 09/10/2021
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