|September 8, 2011|
9/11 Memorial dedication to feature F-15 flyover, honor for those who serve
Memorial dedication events begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at MSU Billings College of Technology
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Sunday’s dedication of the Montana 9/11 Memorial in Billings will include a special flyover and participation from four-legged heroes.
The dedication of the memorial will take place in a special ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m., near the Health Sciences Building at the Montana State University Billings College of Technology near the corner of Shiloh and Central. The event is free and open to the public. Seating will be limited, however, and those who attend are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
Two F-15C Eagle aircraft from the 120th Fighter Wing of the Montana Air National Guard will fly over the event shortly after 2 p.m. as part of the ceremony. This flyover, made possible through support of the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard, will honor those who lost their lives in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania in terrorist attacks 10 years ago. It also pays tribute to those in the armed services who have been killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, and those who continue to serve.
Also in attendance at the ceremony will be Montana members of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. HOPE K-9 teams from around the country volunteered to search for survivors on Sept. 11, 2001 at Ground Zero following the collapse of the World Trade Center. Since 2001, HOPE AACR has grown to have more than 100 certified crisis response teams in five regions that cover 34 states. Members of HOPE have responded to all manner of crises, including major hurricanes, wildfires, train derailments, and school shootings.
Attending on Sunday will be local team leader Harry Schlitz, with members Lyn Findley with dog Sunnie, Tanya Vaught and dog Ginnie and Sue Dewitt and dog Ellie.
Earlier today (Thursday, Sept. 8) more than 1,000 American flags went up at the COT just south of the memorial as part of the Healing Field sponsored by the Exchange Clubs of Billings. Volunteers fanned out at the site at 6 a.m. today to get the field set up and ready for the Healing Field display.
The memorial was designed and constructed on the MSU Billings West End campus with the assistance of university faculty, staff, students, community volunteers and construction experts. The memorial itself is a 600-pound piece of steel I-beam recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center and given to MSU Billings by the Port Authority of New York. It now sits on a 40-foot diameter concrete pad surrounded by benches for reflection. Rising above the piece of I-beam are two 16-foot tube steel towers, a scaled down visual replica of the World Trade Center towers that fell on 9/11.
Sunday’s memorial dedication event will feature speakers whose lives were changed by the tragedy of 9/11 and those who answered the call to service in various ways. One of the featured guests is a boy who will turn 10 on 9/11/11 and is part of the “Faces of Hope” book that set out to find joy from a very dark day. Recipients of scholarships for students who are pursuing degrees in service-oriented careers will be also be presented.
The MSU Billings Band and Choir will perform and the Billings Police Department Color Guard will present colors for the day.
Main speakers that day include:
A face of hope
Johnny is also featured in a book, “Faces of Hope,” that is intended to derive inspiration from a day of tragedy. Profiling 50 babies — one in each state — born when joy was often difficult to find, the book was published in 2003. The profiles feature some inspirational lines such as "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
Johnny and his family live in Billings. They will be featured in a BBC documentary that traces the lives of some 9/11 babies.
Memories of 9/11
In September 2004, his wife, Jessica, was hired as an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration in Billings. The couple moved to Billings and John now takes time to be with his parents and helping his sister at the family ranch.
Memories of 9/11
After the Navy, Lew became a pilot at United Airlines where he was the first captain rated on the B-777 jets and was Chief Pilot of the B-777 Fleet for United Airlines. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was serving as Director of Flight Operations Support, attending a meeting in Chicago. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, Lew became a Senior Flight Operations representative in the Crisis Center, and was directly involved in the response process. In the aftermath of 9/11, he was assigned to be in charge of Flight and Flight Crew Security for United Airlines and was a part of the evolution of the TSA and Homeland Security.
Semi-retired, Lew now works as the tennis coach at MSU Billings.
As the Adjutant General for the State of Montana, he administers/commands a joint federal-state program to provide for the organization of the Montana Army and Air National Guard. He is responsible to the Governor for providing disaster and Emergency Services, Homeland Security, Veteran Affairs, a Counter-Drug Support Team, a Civil Support Team and a Youth Challenge Program. Brigadier General Walsh also served as the Battalion Commander of the 1-163d Infantry Battalion while deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III from December 2004 through November 2005.
Brigadier General Walsh received his commission through the Officer Candidate School in Helena, Montana in 1987. He is a graduate of the United States Army War College in June 2007 with a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies. Prior to his commissioning he served as an enlisted member of the 3669th Maintenance Company with the Montana Army National Guard in Helena.
A major part of this day will be a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. at the COT Commons that deals with the effects of 9/11 on our community resources, safety and security. Panelists include:
Then, at 8:30 p.m., an ecumenical group will have a faith-based candlelight vigil at the memorial site. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to bring their own candles. This event is being organized by Steve Gordon of Mayflower Congregational Church with support of other faith groups and leaders.
For more information about the memorial, its educational resources and to find out about the oral history project connected to the memorial, go to www.msubillings.edu/911memorial.
PHOTO ABOVE: The Montana 9/11 Memorial, featuring a piece of I-beam recovered from the World Trade Center, will be dedicated Sunday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m