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MyDHS - Donald Anderson, Deputy Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge (DSAC), New York Field Office (NYFO)
Podcast Series: 

Donald Anderson asked himself on September 11, 2001, “What do you do when it was your mission to prevent the very acts that took the lives of so many family and friends?"  You step up and make certain that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Transcript

Please welcome to the stage, Deputy Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge, Donald Anderson, Transportation Security Administration. Thank you. If you bear with me for one second. When I joined the Department, I not only had hair, I had perfect vision. Madam Secretary, distinguished colleagues and honored guests. It truly is an honor to be among you here today as we celebrate 15 years of dedicated service under the banner of the Department of Homeland Security. 20 years ago, I joined the ranks of the Federal Air Marshal Service. We were 33 strong back then. A proud group of military veterans and legacy civil aviation security professionals charged with the successful evolution of what President John F. Kennedy envisioned in 1961. The worldwide protection of US air carriers’ passengers and crews, you could imagine the challenges we faced. 33 air marshals charged with worldwide coverage little did we know at the time, however that this paled in comparison to the challenges we were about to face. As our charge magnified beyond description on 11 September 2001, the transformation that consumed the 33 of us is often difficult to discuss and nearly impossible to adequately convey. What do you do when you witness the tragic events of 9/11 knowing that it was your mission to prevent the very acts that took the lives of so many of our family and friends? You step up to the plate and you fully engage in the unprecedented growth of a federal agency and you make sure that history does not repeat itself. During the past 20 years, I have had the honor of serving at the pleasure of multiple Presidents, Secretaries, Administrators, and Directors and currently serve under the direction of one of the greatest leaders I have come to know – New York Field Office’s Special Agent in Charge William Hall who unfortunately could not be here today. I have served four Federal Air Marshal Service Directorates and managed people and programs as the first post 9/11 Manager of Mission Operations, the Staff Special Agent in Charge of Field Operations, and the Office of the Director, the Federal Air Marshal Services Deputy Chief of Staff, and the Deputy Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge of the New York Field Office, and in 2010, was proud to represent the Department of Homeland Security at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. While I am proud of my accomplishments, as I am of the achievements of my distinguished colleagues, I would in fact trade it all in for a seat on any one of four flights on 9/11. And so it is with a heavy heart that I stand before you here today. While today is a day of celebration, I would ask something of you all. Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of welcoming hundreds of new recruits into the Federal Air Marshal Service and the one question I ask of them all is: where were you on 9/11? See, the majority of our next generation of leaders who were in elementary school on 9/11. And while I am certain that they get it that they understand, one of my greatest fears is that one day, 9/11 will be reduced to merely a page in history and we can't afford to let that happen. And so my charge to you is this: make sure your team members understand and appreciate why we are here especially those who have yet to join our ranks. We owe that much to those who have fallen. We owe that much to our future generations and we owe that much to this great nation. I'd like to thank you, Madam Secretary, for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my colleagues. We've come a long way in 15 years, and while there remains work to be done, I know that our skies are safer with every initiative we undertake within the department and in particular the Transportation Security Administration. Our risk based approach strengthens and I speak with confidence when I say that we will not let history repeat itself under our watch. It has and continues to be an honor to serve as a dedicated member of the Department of Homeland Security. [Applause]
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