Richard Guadagno (1962-2001)

Richard Guadagno smiling posing for photo.

About Richard Guadagno (1962-2001)


Richard J. Guadagno was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on September 26, 1962, and he grew up in Ewing, New Jersey. Guadagno graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in land management and biology in 1984. He spent his free time nursing injured animals back to health, teaching himself taxidermy, and managing a garden of lettuce, tomatoes, and beans. He also raised a German shepherd puppy named Raven. Guadagno began his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) career as a temporary biologist at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, and his first permanent assignment was as a wildlife inspector in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During his 17 years working for the Service, Guadagno graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and served at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, and Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. In 2000, Guadagno became the Refuge Manager for Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California, where he dutifully served until his death.

Cause of Death

On September 11, 2001, Guadagno was on board United Airlines 93 with 39 other passengers and crew members when it crashed in Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. Guadagno was returning from a visit to celebrate his grandmother’s 100th birthday, and the plane was traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, when passengers learned that hijackers intended to crash the plane into an unknown location in Washington, D.C. Investigators discovered Guadagno’s Service law enforcement credentials in the remains of the cockpit, meaning Guadagno likely took an active role in confronting the hijackers at the expense of his own life. Guadagno was the only federal law enforcement officer aboard any of the four hijacked flights, and his heroic actions along with the actions of other members of the flight prevented further tragedy during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The U.S. Department of the Interior posthumously awarded him itsValor Award. Furthermore, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to name the visitor center at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge the “Richard J. Guadagno Visitor Center and Headquarters” in his honor. Other refuges where Guadagno previously worked honored his sacrifice as well; Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge dedicated an observation platform to him, and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge established a pavilion with a plaque in his name. Furthermore, Guadagno’s family helped create the Richard Guadagno Fellowship to provide two students from the Student Conservation Association an opportunity to pursue their passion for the environment.


Key Fields

Born 1962, Died 2001, Age 38, Male, Refuge Manager, Law Enforcement Officer, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California, Plane, Crash, Valor Award, Eponym,9/11, Temporary Biologist, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware, Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge