USAF Honor Guard honors first responders in New York on 9/11 anniversary

  • Published
  • By Mike Martin
  • AFDW Public Affairs
The United States Air Force Honor Guard arrived in New York City, N.Y. at the National September 11 Memorial on Sept. 10, stood in front of the bronze plates inscribed with 2,983 victims and began folding three American Flags.

Those flags were safe guarded overnight and delivered Sept. 11 to three separate groups of first responders to honor the sacrifices they made 14 years ago when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings.

Every year at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, the same time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, first responders across New York City hold a moment of silence and read the names of those in their units that gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day.

This year, the Honor Guard took part in this solemn occasion, unfolding, observing a moment of silence, and refolding the American flag in a fashion similar to a service at Arlington National Cemetery before presenting it to a representative from each of the three units.

"This is our way of honoring those first responders, who I call our brothers and sisters in service and in uniform," said Maj. Ryan VanVeelen, United States Air Force Honor Guard director of operations. "This day is a day about first responders."

The New York City Police Department's 1st Precinct, the department's closest precinct to the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and New York City Fire Department Squad Company 1, which lost half its squad that day, were simultaneously delivered the first two flags by two elements of the USAF Honor Guard earlier this morning.

"Can you imagine losing half your unit?  How do you show up to work the next day? And they did it, and they did it the next day, and the next day," said VanVeelen. "It's Amazing."

At about 2 p.m. today the honor guard plan on presenting the third flag to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey prior to an Interfaith Remembrance Service they will be hosting at St. Peter's Church in New York City to honor the 84 Port Authority employees who were lost on 9/11.