THE CISO’S PERSPECTIVE / 2019 Special Edition
As the 2019-2020 school year starts I would like to reflect on one thing the incoming first-year students have in common: Many were infants or not even born when the attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) occurred.
As people close to me know, my personal tie to that day is the tragic loss of many friends when American Airlines Flight 77 was aimed at the Pentagon and ultimately caused the death of 189 people. The people who perished there were not only Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines; they were also sons, daughters, new fathers, seasoned workers close to retirement, dedicated civil servants, people who worked hard for just causes, those who simply loved to serve others, and some just starting out in their work life. They were a cross-section of America.
The world was different before that day. Of course, serving in or around the military comes with the realization that the danger we face could end in tragedy. Not something we often think about in South Central Wisconsin.
While I served in times of conflict, most of my service was peaceful in nature, I still feel this loss deeply. Every year on this day, Patriot Day, I pledge to remember those faces and the characters that have missed out on life’s special occasions these past 18 years.
Their friends and family have lived lives that included recurring pain of loss, wondering why this happened to them, and what could have been had these people only been elsewhere at 9:39 am that September morning.
Of those 189, seven of these heroes worked at the Navy Telecommunications Center (known then as the OPNAV TCC). Five of these seven worked directly for me at the Pentagon during my last tour in the Navy. The other two of them crossed paths as I exited when I retired from the Navy and turned over my position as Officer in Charge of that facility in May 2001. I had visited OPNAV TCC in August of that year and met with all seven. These heroes were in the OPNAV TCC offices or in the Voice Communications Facility at the Pentagon that morning. They never saw it coming, they never had a chance to escape the wrath, they never had the chance to say goodbye.
Yeoman Second Class Melissa Rose Barnes
A former Navy Corpsman, she came back in to make the Navy her career. She had nearly completed her tour at the Pentagon and was due to join the Fleet at the end of September.
She worked as the Yeoman for the OPNAV TCC, handing all of our administrative chores and keeping me on my toes. Her smile was disarming and her desire to do her best work was to be admired.
We lost a good one.
Information Technology Specialist Second Class Kris Romeo Bishundat
He reported the same week I departed and I met him only briefly.
Just two days short of his sixth year in the Navy, Romeo already had two sea tours under his belt and was getting started on a well-earned tour ashore. His family emigrated from Guyana and he grew up on the other side of the Washington, DC Beltway in Waldorf, Maryland.
Only God knows where this great Sailor could have gone in the Navy.
Electronics Technician Third Class Christopher L. Burford
The NTC was his first tour in the Navy. Assigned to the Voice Communications division, he was responsible for maintaining equipment and setting up video teleconferences for the Navy leaders in the Pentagon.
He had talent and enthusiasm. His curiosity was endless.
Our Navy was denied a great technician that day.
Electronics Technician Third Class Daniel M. Caballero
Another first tour Sailor, “Cabby” as he was called, had a great sense of humor and lived to play with the gadgets we were given at the Pentagon.
He was getting ready to roll out to an assignment onboard a Military Sealift Command ship. A place where a Sailor of his caliber belonged.
Our loss with this young man is great.
Electronics Technician First Class Brian A. Moss
Married, father of two children. Had just started working at the OPNAV TCC earlier that spring. Brian and I crossed paths as I was leaving so I never really got to know him well.
He was a talented Sailor and leader who came to the Pentagon from three years’ service at the Navy Ceremonial Guard.
The Navy was denied a great enlisted leader when his lamp went out.
Chief Radioman (Retired) and Telecommunications Manager Marvin Roger Woods
For three years Roger and I shared coffee in the morning well before the Pentagon woke up. He was the guy you asked to go and find the impossible – whether it was a part for a piece of equipment or information we needed to avert a disaster in supporting our customers – Roger would find it.
My last act as Officer in Charge of the OPNAV TCC was to present Roger with a superior performance award – the cash that came with it he used to build a shed in his backyard – we shared plans and experiences since I had been working on one in my backyard.
He was a grandfather and getting close to real retirement. The world is missing a handy man, great hunter, avid fisherman and, above all, a good man.
Information Technology Specialist Kevin W. Yokum
Kevin was a seasoned Radioman turned Information Systems Technician. He was also the Career Counselor at the NTC.
He loved the Navy and had great pride in keeping the good Sailors in the Navy at a time when many would have rather bailed out. He was always busy but never hesitated to talk to anyone who needed an ear.
We do not get many like him in life. This one was a tough one to give up.
For those who never personally experienced the tragedy, grief, and profound losses of that day, please take the time to help those new students to the University of Wisconsin-Madison understand and forever remember what happened on that day. Help them to learn about why this happened, what kind of people were there that day, how those on site ran toward the destruction and desperately tried to save as many as they could. And, above all, help them to achieve goals in life that were denied the 189 people in Arlington, Virginia.
Remember the heroism displayed by the 40 passengers who perished when the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 was deliberately crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania rather than be turned around and used to attack other targets in Washington, DC.
Reflect on the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City where 2,996 people’s lives were cut short, over 6,000 others were injured, and at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property was damaged. Reflect on the heroism of first responders and everyday people who came to the rescue of the injured, helped others escape the catastrophe. Also remember the thousands who died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following these attacks.
May the incoming class be where the peacemakers come from, the technologists that create better buildings, airplanes, emergency response equipment, and other necessary technologies that minimize casualties if this were ever to happen again on an equal or greater scale. May our schools that teach how to heal body, mind and soul learn to respond with the right treatments and technology that restores quality of life.
May this never happen again!
—Bob Turner, UW–Madison Chief Information Security Officer
To learn more about the Magnificent Seven of the Navy Telecommunications Center and to see the list of others lost there on 9/11/2001, go to:
For a historical view of that day, go to: