Rob Parrish, TSA
When 9/11 happened, I was the Director of Technical Training for MCI Telecommunications Corp. While my primary office was in Dallas, I was in Columbus, OH reviewing the training assets of CompuServe (a company MCI had just bought) for opportunities to incorporate their capabilities into our own.
Then the world changed.
I couldn’t stop watching the news with the latest from NY, the Pentagon and Shanksville. The Shanksville flight was briefly thought at the time to be on a possible trajectory toward Ohio and the skies above Columbus were filled with not passenger flights - which had all been grounded - but military aircraft. Unable to get a flight out since everything was grounded, I ultimately drove back toward Dallas in the rental car I had picked up a few days earlier.
Just outside Louisville, KY about 2 AM, I approached Fort Knox which is adjacent to the interstate. I saw something I never thought I’d see: heavy military vehicles in clear view of and alongside the interstate highway and much more activity than one expects in the middle of the night on a dark stretch of road in rural Kentucky. The sight of it made me angry: not angry that the army was prepared to take whatever action necessary – but that it was necessary to be prepared to take action on the US Mainland. These things simply do not happen in my country.
Several months later, I read an article in the Dallas newspaper regarding the standup of a new security agency. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced that the Transportation Security Administration would soon take over the security and inspection of passengers and baggage in US Airports. The article went on to name the Federal Security Director for Dallas Love Field – Mike Restovich. Restovich and I had been colleagues at MCI. I, the Director of Training – he, the Director of Network Security. I called Mike and told him that if I could ever be of service to the Country to prevent another such attack, he should let me know.
Restovich hired me as the Training Manager for TSA at Dallas Love Field. I left MCI on June 30, 2002 and swore into Federal Service on July 2, 2002. I was proudly able to help recruit and train hundreds of new security professionals for TSA and have served the agency in a variety of capacities since.