In his opening remarks, Rear Adm. Curt Copley, commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), spoke directly to personnel who may be assessing the value of their deployments and contributions since the attacks on American soil.
Copley stated, “In this day, this place, commemorating these eight intelligence professionals wipes away all those questions. For how could we not go when our homeland was attacked and our shipmates killed?”
Retired Capt. Tom Bortmes, who was commander of ONI during the attack and played a critical role in ensuring the continuity of operations for ONI and all of Naval Intelligence, served as the guest speaker at the ceremony. He pointed out that for some ONI personnel, those who either were not working at ONI at the time or were too young to recall the events that day, ONI’s fallen shipmates should be so much more than abstractions or names etched on walls and murals.
“They were among the best our Navy and our nation had to offer. They were our pride and our future—they were you,” said Bortmes.
He went on to speak directly to the family members of the fallen, both those in attendance and those who were there in spirit, naming them among the true heroes of 9/11. “You added the meaning to these remembrance ceremonies…you stiffened our resolve. We thank you.”
Bortmes lauded ONI personnel for their accomplishments in reconstituting personnel and systems connectivity to CNO-IP without dropping a pre-9/11 mission or function, noting, “I am immensely proud of what the men and women of Naval Intelligence achieved. To this day, no terrorist attack using a commercial maritime conveyance has ever occurred in the U.S.”
Retired Rear Adm. Rick Porterfield, who served nearly five years as the Director of Naval Intelligence, and Rear Adm. Copley laid a wreath at the NMIC memorial in the remembrance garden as has been done for the past 20 years.
In accordance with tradition, the ship’s bell of USS Cassin (DD 372), which serves as ONI’s ceremonial ship’s bell, tolled as the names of all eight ONI personnel who perished serving at CNO-IP that day were read. They were: Cdr. Dan Shanower; Lt. Cdr. Vince Tolbert; Lieutenants Jonas Panik and Darin Pontell; IT1 Julian Cooper; civilian analyst Angie Houtz; contractor and Navy veteran Gerry Moran; and Presidential Management Intern Brady Howell.
Other guests included current and former Naval Intelligence leaders Letitia Long and Vice Admirals Jeffrey Trussler and Kelly Aeschbach.
To commemorate this year’s anniversary, the program was expanded to include a video shown during the reception that features reflections from family members of the fallen and past and present ONI and naval intelligence leaders.
ONI’s remembrance ceremonies fulfill a promise not to forget the eight shipmates who made the ultimate sacrifice for their families and friends. On Saturday, September 11, 2021, a ceremony will be held at Arlington National Cemetery for the eight dedicated professionals who comprise the naval intelligence community: men and women, officers and enlisted Sailors, civilians, contractors, and interns.
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