Leonard "Lenny" Hatton Jr. served 16 years with the FBI until he was tragically killed on September 11, 2001. Screenshots from YouTube. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Special Agent Leonard “Lenny” Hatton Jr. was headed to work on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when he observed thick, black smoke billowing from the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Hatton abandoned his course along the West Side Highway toward the FBI’s New York field office and entered the Marriott Hotel adjacent to the north tower to get a better view of the chaotic scene. Standing on the roof, Hatton watched an airplane slam into the south tower and knew immediately that he had to help.
A volunteer firefighter, Marine veteran, and bomb technician, Hatton felt compelled to assist first responders as rescue efforts got underway. He raced to the hotel’s ground floor, then joined New York City Fire Department firefighters in the lobby of the north tower. He maintained radio communication with his FBI supervisors and colleagues, informing them of the precise time the plane smashed into the tower and keeping them apprised of further developments.
Hatton was killed when the towers collapsed. He was the only active FBI agent to die in the attacks — although, to date, at least 15 FBI agents have perished because of toxic exposure during the recovery efforts.
In 2016, the FBI Agents Association released a tribute video honoring Hatton’s sacrifice. In the video, his wife, Jo Anne, and their four children, Tara, Leonard, Jessica, and Courtney, remember him as a family man. Courtney recalls the time when her father left an overseas investigation in Yemen to fly some 33 hours back home, just to be present for her father-daughter school dance. Leonard talks about his father’s athletic background. An athlete himself, he remembers seeing his dad’s “Athlete of the Week” bronze plaque at his high school and feeling inspired to follow in his footsteps. Hatton’s colleagues also appear in the video, sharing fond memories of him and discussing the impact he had on their lives.
The FBI Agents Association is dedicated to remembering all fallen agents and supporting their families in need. “The FBI Agents Association was founded with a very simple, yet important mission,” said Special Agent Renaldo Tariche II, a former president of the organization, in the tribute video. “We have been able to provide college education for the children of deceased agents and for financial relief through our members and assistance funds to agents and their families in times of need.”
Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.
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