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106th Rescue Wing Airmen mark 20th anniversary of 9/11

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  • By Senior Airman Kevin Donaldson,

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. – Members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing gathered in front of wing headquarters to remember and honor the victims, heroes, and fallen warriors of 9/11 in a ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

Lieutenant Colonel Brian McNamara, a 106th chaplain, presided over the ceremony and delivered a message of hope and reflection, punctuated with moments of silence and the ringing of a bell to acknowledge America's resolve and resilience.

He said death and darkness did not win, but instead life, light, and the American spirit has won out.

Those who died in a 1993 bombing attack on the World Trade Center were also remembered.

Base flags were flown at half-staff and the Flag of Honor, comprised of the names of those who died on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing was on display.

Col. Shawn Fitzgerald, the commander of the 196th Rescue Wing, also spoke during the ceremony.

“Despite the horror of the situation we also witnessed untold bravery and sacrifice,” Fitzgerald said.

“As thousands fled the burning buildings, hundreds rushed in and made the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice relatable to this wing and our motto – ‘That Others May Live.’ The brave men and women of the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority and countless citizens whose unselfish actions undoubtedly saved thousands and prevented the day from being more tragic should never be forgotten,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald encouraged everyone to read the countless stories of bravery and to visit a 9/11 museum or memorial to learn more about the history of 9/11.

Senior Airman Allen Bethancourt, a 106th Honor Guard member, played taps in remembrance of the fallen.

Bethancourt was just a year-old when 9/11 happened and he joined the 106th with aspirations to become a pilot.

106th Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson, said it was also important to remember the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who died that day.

“They were the first Americans that took the fight to the enemy and prevented them from using that plane to kill more Americans,” Hewson said.

“The Airman of the 106th will take our annual road trip and visit the sites where the 9/11 attacks took place,” Hewson said. “The trip started as a small reminder to our younger Airmen on why we serve in the military and why we deploy to the warzone.”

History has proven that there are likely dark days in our future and we must learn from our past and prepare for our next call, Fitzgerald said.

He added that it’s especially important for uniformed members to remember, and to reflect and think about how the world changed 20 years ago.