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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Our Honor Guard Helps Recognize Heroes of Flight 93, including One of our Own

Doug Cordell, a public affairs officer at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, recently attended a ceremony in Union City, California remembering the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  

At the ceremony, passengers of United flight 93 were honored for the bravery and heroism they showed in thwarting another terrorist attack. Richard Guadagno, a career Service employee and refuge manager at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is thought to be one of the passengers who fought back against the Hijackers. Here is Doug's report.

 “I’m proud to be here,” said Shelby Finney, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Honor Guard, at a Union City, California, ceremony on the 10th 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 National Wildlife Refuge 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.

Seal on the beach

FWS Honor Guard at marker for Richard Guadagno Photo Credit: Doug Cordell/USFWS

The Union City monument to Flight 93, which features a meandering walkway with individual, red granite pillars for each of the 40 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, dedicated in 2007, 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  21-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 40 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 12 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 Service. 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


Looks like it was a great ceremony, I wish I could have attended. Thank you Honor Guard for your professional appearance.
# Posted By Jim | 9/16/11 1:20 PM

I was so proud to be a part of the event! Special thanks to the staff at San Fransico Bay NWR who assisted the HG with the ceremony!
# Posted By Officer R.A. Merritt | 9/16/11 4:23 PM
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