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‘I remember it like it happened yesterday’ | CT TSA director recalls responding to Ground Zero after 9/11 attacks

Bill Csontos says working for two weeks in New York City sifting through the rubble inspired his next career change.

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Former Connecticut State Trooper Bill Csontos and his acclaimed K9 partner Odin were dispatched to New York City soon after the attacks at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

They were assigned to work through the wreckage and rubble left behind by the Twin Towers – a mission that quickly turned from rescue to recovery.

“It’s nothing you can prepare for. I remember it like it happened yesterday,” he told FOX61 News recently.

RELATED: 20 years later | FOX61 journalists remember Sept. 11, 2001

Csontos, who is the current Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director for the state of Connecticut, spent two weeks in New York City sifting through the wreckage and working more than 15 hours a day with Odin and other K9 teams.

“The flames, the smells, they often refer to it as a movie set,” he recalled from his office at Bradley International Airport. “People running, fire departments, police, civilians – everyone was just trying to help.”

Credit: Jimmy Altman
Bill Csontos, the Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director for the state of Connecticut, at Bradley International Airport.

Twenty years later, Csontos oversees security for Bradley International Airport and Tweed-New Haven Airport. The husband and father attributes his move from the state police to the TSA as a result of the challenging experiences from helping in Ground Zero.

“The TSA was formed out of 9/11,” he said. “It was just a natural fit for me.”

Csontos spent seven years working in Washington, D.C. as a TSA officer before taking over the role as Connecticut’s Federal Security Director six years ago.

“There isn’t a day that I don’t think about 9/11,” he said.

MORE 9/11 20TH ANNIVERSARY STORIES

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These days overseeing safety at both airports, Csontos said he makes sure his staffers know about the history of Sept. 11, 2001 and shares his memories when appropriate.

“I try to instill the importance of 9/11 to my officers as much as I can and hopefully that motivates them.”

Credit: Jimmy Altman

Now, two decades after he responded to the tragedy at the World Trade Center, Csontos offered one more message: “The message is ‘Never Forget’. It’s what keeps us going.”

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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