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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SAN FRANCISCO BAY NWR COMPLEX: Fish and Wildlife Service Honor Guard Helps Recognize Heroes of Flight 93

Region 8, September 26, 2011
USFWS Honor Guard places roses on marker for Richard Guadagno and others who died on United Flt. 93
USFWS Honor Guard places roses on marker for Richard Guadagno and others who died on United Flt. 93 - Photo Credit: n/a

By Doug Cordell, USFWS

“I’m proud to be here,” said Shelby Finney, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Honor Guard, at a Union City, CA ceremony held on the tenth anniversary of 9-11, recognizing the heroes of United Flight 93, whose bravery prevented even greater tragedy that terrible day.

 One of the heroes on that flight—and the reason for the presence of the Service’s Honor Guard at the ceremony—was Richard Guadagno, refuge manager at Humboldt Bay NWR and a trained Federal Refuge Law Enforcement officer. Guadagno is thought to be one of several passengers who fought back against the hijackers, preventing them from crashing the plane into the White House or the Capitol building, forcing the plane, instead, to crash land in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.

The Union City monument to Flight 93, which features a meandering walkway along individual, red granite pillars for each of the forty people aboard the San Francisco-bound flight, was created in recognition of the great number of passengers who, like Richard Guadagno, were residents of northern California. The site also includes a Circle of Remembrance, where three 10-foot stones tell the story of Flight 93, and a Plaza of Hope with a flagpole surrounded by colorful tiles made by Union City schoolchildren.

“It’s a great memorial,” said another member of the Honor Guard, Samantha Fleming—who, like Finney and the other three members of the Guard who made the trip, is a refuge law enforcement officer.

More than 400 people attended the September 11, 2011 event, which included a flag raising procession by the Union City Boy Scouts and a twenty-one gun salute by the American Legion Honor Guard, District 10. The Service Honor Guard’s contribution at the close of the ceremony was an especially moving one, as they marched slowly, in lockstep, and placed roses on each of the forty monuments.

Of her presence, and that of her fellow Guard members at the Union City ceremony—which, for most, required travel from distant areas of the country—Fleming said: “It’s a little thing we can do to honor [those who died].”

Just over a year old, the Honor Guard represents nearly every Service region, with twelve refuge law enforcement officers and three active alternates, all of whom were chosen based on their skills and their dedication to the core values of the agency. Several times a year, members of the Guard travel to memorials, funerals, and other official ceremonies to honor and remember Service employees who dedicated their lives to wildlife conservation and the safety and security of Service lands.

Doug Cordell is a Public Affairs Officer at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Contact Info: Doug Cordell, 510-774-4080, doug_cordell@fws.gov