San Diego

San Diego Remembers: Paying Tribute to Fallen Heroes on 17th Anniversary of 9/11

It has become a tradition in San Diego for retired New York firefighters to pay their respects aboard USS Midway

On the seventeenth anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil, Americans across the nation, including in San Diego, are remembering the lives lost and the lives altered by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It has become a tradition in San Diego for retired New York firefighters to pay their respects aboard USS Midway to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks and to honor the first responders that sacrificed their lives on that day.

The ceremony will include a tolling of the bells by San Diego Fire-Rescue firefighters, an emergency helicopter flyover and a 21-gun salute.

The commemorative event began in 2006, when the San Diego Chapter of the retired New York Firefighters asked museum officials if they could hold a 9/11 memorial aboard the historic Navy vessel.

First responders themselves are especially moved to honor the heroes lost trying to save the lives of those in the World Tarde Center. 343 firefighters died on September 11 and many others later died from 9/11-related illnesses.

"I think everybody needs to remember the way they felt that day," former firefighter Bob Bera said at a memorial climb at the Hilton Bayfront Saturday that puts participants in the shoes of responders who made the climb up the 110-story World Trade Center. 

Remembering Those Lost

Several San Diegans were among those killed when terrorists hijacked and crashed four airplanes. Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York, one crashed into the Pentagon and the last crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Deora Bodley, a 20-year-old college student from Mira Mesa, was visiting friends in New Jersey before boarding United Flight 93. A graduate of La Jolla Country Day, Bodley was about to start her junior year at the University of Santa Clara.

"Deora Frances Bodley would be 38 years old today. That day, she was the youngest passenger on board," Former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker said at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania Tuesday." 

The 33 passengers and 7 crew members aboard Flight 93 have been marked as heroes who sacrificed their own lives to thwart what could have been an even greater terror attack. 

Former Penn. Gov. Mark Schweiker remembered Deora Bodley, a 20-year-old college student from Mira Mesa, who was the youngest passenger aboard a hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Brian Sweeney, a one-time Pacific Beach resident, was aboard Flight 175 on that fateful day and managed to leave his wife a voicemail moments before he died that begins, "Hi Jules, it's Brian. Listen, I'm on an airplane that's been hijacked."

Susie Ward Baker of La Mesa lost her son, 38-year-old Tim Ward, a project manager for Rubios and 1987 graduate of San Diego State University. He was also on Flight 175.

Ramona resident Ann Browne was anticipating a visit from her brother Father Francis Grogan from Massachusetts. A friend had given him a first-class ticket on the United flight.

Robert Penninger, 63, of Poway was on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. A classic car and motorcycle enthusiast, Penninger was said to enjoy showing his 1999 Cobra Mustang at area car shows.

Stock trader Brent Woodall, the son of a La Jolla couple, called his parents from Tower 2 when the first plane crashed into the WTC. He called again later to say he was getting out but he perished in the tower collapse.

Woodall graduated La Jolla High School where a memorial award and scholarship was created to recognize outstanding baseball players, something Woodall excelled at before beginning a career in finance.

Across the Nation

The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims' relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, concern and inspiration.

Victims' relatives, survivors, rescuers and others gathered on a misty Tuesday morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a new "Tower of Voices" was dedicated Saturday, while Vice President Mike Pence attends a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Hours after the ceremony, two powerful light beams will soar into the night sky from lower Manhattan in the annual "Tribute in Light."

Sept. 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it's less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz and Stephen Groves contributed to this report. 

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