Estrella Warbirds’ freedom flight flyover in memory of the day’s tragic events

NORTH COUNTY — On Saturday, the community came together to honor the lives lost twenty years ago on Sept. 11, 2001. 

The City of Atascadero honored Patriot’s Day by commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 with a special and patriotic evening in which the community gathered in front of the City Hall at Sunken Gardens to honor the thousands of lives lost 20 years ago.  

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Estrella Warbirds’ freedom flight flew over the City Hall in the “missing man” formation in memory of the day’s tragic events that took over 3000 lives. 


According to the City, the aircraft were three vintage military planes that are part of the Estrella Warbirds Freedom Flight team. They came from the west at a speed of 90 mph in a three-ship “V” formation, with US Army veteran pilot Bob Kelly, leading out in front of the “V.” The left-wing of the formation was piloted by the United States Marine Corps veteran Wayne Rice; the right-wing was piloted by former Atascadero Police Chief and US Army Vietnam Huey gunner and crew chief veteran John Couch; co-piloted by Atascadero resident and US Air Force Vietnam Veteran, George Marrett.

When they passed over the top of the Historic City Hall, the right-wing of the formation with Chief Couch and George Marrett climbed into the sky in a poignant flight path known as the “Missing Man” maneuver to honor all those first responders and others who were lost on Sept. 11, 2001. 

The event featured a patriotic performance of The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and musical performances by Painted Red Music and Unfinished Business.

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Memorial Stairclimb 

Across the nation, firefighters and the public honor the 343 first responders who gave their lives to help others on 9/11 by climbing 110 stories—the equivalent of the highest point of the World Trade Center. According to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which sponsors the stair climbs, the event honors the memories of first responders who died that day and symbolizes the completion of their heroic journeys to save others.

In remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks, 20th anniversary, Templeton Fire hosted a 9/11 Memorial Stairclimb at Templeton High School’s Football Stadium, which started at 8:30 a.m. 

Several community members joined the firefighters as they continued the annual tradition in honor of their fallen comrades.   

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Atascadero Firefighters and Chief Officers met at Atascadero High School on Friday, Sept. 10. Students in Jeff Spiller’s Physical Education class participated in a stair climb workout in honor of those who were lost in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Fire Battalion Chief Miranda provided some history of that day’s tragic events before the climb to help young students understand the ultimate sacrifice made by many that day. It was shared that despite the heat, many sets of stairs were conquered.

On Sept. 11, they shared the following statement via social media, 

“Twenty years ago today, our nation came under attack, and 2,977 lives were lost. While this unthinkable tragedy is forever etched in our soul…so are the countless stories of bravery that day from first responders and civilians that gave the ultimate sacrifice while saving others. A grief-struck nation came together to mourn the loss of so many lives and to offer unwavering support to the friends and families of those that perished.

Today, let us remember not only the heart-breaking events that were inflicted upon us that 9/11….but also the strength and resolve that carried us through the aftermath as we all came together to heal as a nation.”

Fort Hunter Liggett

The Fort Hunter Liggett community came together to honor the lives lost twenty years ago, Sept. 11, 2021, on Friday, Sept. 10. 

The procession and memorial service was held to honor and pay tribute to all those who had died.