Description Navy blue button-up windbreaker jacket belonging to John P. O'Neill. "FBI" is printed in yellow on the back, upper sleeves, and left breast of the jacket.
Historical Notes Atlantic City, New Jersey, native John O’Neill lived in New York City. He had two children. John spent over 20 years in the FBI, where he tracked terrorists and became the special agent in charge of the National Security Division of its New York office. He retired in 2001. In August, John became Silverstein Properties’ head of World Trade Center security. On September 11, he was at work. He was 49 years old.
Curator's Comment After a long career at the FBI, John O’Neill began a new assignment as head of security at the World Trade Center on August 23, 2001. On 9/11, O’Neill was on the 35th floor of the South Tower when al-Qaeda hijackers at the controls of Flight 11 struck the North Tower. Over the next 40 minutes, he spoke by phone with his son and with several close acquaintances, assuring them of his safety, and indicating that he planned to evaluate the extent of damage and injuries. O’Neill was last seen striding toward the South Tower, attempting to use his cell phone. His remains were recovered in the wreckage on September 21, 2001.
The presence of the FBI windbreaker in O’Neill’s private car suggests his strong attachment to his former employer. Before becoming an agent in 1976, O’Neill worked as a fingerprint clerk and later served as a tour guide at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., while completing a Master’s program in forensics. By 1995, he had become the FBI’s chief of counterterrorism and worked closely with the team that brought Ramzi Yousef, a mastermind of the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center, to the United States from Pakistan, where he had been found in hiding. O'Neill later led the FBI investigations of al-Qaeda’s attacks on American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. His team’s efforts led to the convictions of key al-Qaeda members and to the indictment of Osama bin Laden. HIDE