Event Description

Los Gatos Alumni Save Thousands and the U.S. Capitol from Annihilation

On 9/11, four passengers attempted to take back cockpit control from Al-Qaeda terrorists aboard United Flight 93.  The team successfully broke into the cockpit.  United Flight 93 crashed into an open field in Shanksville Pennsylvania and all 44 passengers on board were killed.  The actions of the four-passenger pickup team marked the first civilian counterattack upon terrorism on that tragic day.  Their efforts thwarted the Al-Qaeda plot to annihilate the U.S. Capitol Building and all within it.

No other town in all of America holds that distinction.

Two of the four individuals – Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer – were from the Town of Los Gatos.  No other town in all of America holds that distinction.  At the cost of their own lives, their actions saved the lives of thousands of Washingtonians.  More importantly, their actions preserved our government’s ability to operate at a critical time when it needed to act.  Mark and Todd were never trained as soldiers.  They carried no weaponry.

They volunteered.

Flame of Liberty Memorial at Dusk

“The Man in the Red Bandana”

Back east, another civilian, a 24-year-old equities trader – Welles Remy Crowther, who worked on the 104th floor of the South Tower in the World Trade Center, was fighting for his life and that of total strangers.  Welles’ Father and Grandfather were both volunteer fire fighters.  As a young boy, Welles accompanied them to the fire house and helped clean the trucks.  He then attended firefighting training as a teen.  The “Man in The Red Bandana,” Welles Remy Crowther, put his junior member volunteer firefighter skills that he learned at the age of 16 to work to escape being personally trapped on the 104th floor of the South Tower.

After UA Flight 175 struck the South Tower between floors 77 and 85, through flames, the thick haze of smoke, smell of airline fuel, darkness and chaos, Crowther located the one remaining passable stairway in the South Tower and worked his way down.  Crowther made his way to the 78th floor Sky Lobby where he encountered a group of a few survivors including some who were badly burned, of the approximately 200 who had been waiting for elevators when the plane crash occurred, severely impacting all on the busy 78th floor lobby.  Crowther commanded calm control, carried a young woman on his back and directed the survivors to follow him down 17 floors where he delivered them to safety and instructed them to help each other as they descended the remaining 61 floors.

Crowther went back upstairs to the 78th floor Sky Lobby to locate and assist others.  On his return, he wore a red bandana tied over his nose and mouth to protect himself against smoke inhalation.  The red bandana was something that was given to him by his Father.  Welles carried the bandana in his pocket daily since the age of six – to school, to work, to play, and to the ice hockey rink in college.  The red bandana became his icon.  It was also the one element that identified the victims’ savior in the aftermath following the incident.  On Crowther’s second return, he again found another group whom he led to safety.  And then Crowther made a third trip up to the crash site, performed a third rescue mission, and again led survivors to safety.

Crowther’s treacherous journey continued down the remaining 61 floors.  He ultimately made it as far as the South Tower Building 1st floor lobby.  He was 75-feet away from achieving personal safety when the South Tower collapsed.  Months later, his remains were found in the company of NYFD firefighters in the rubble who were in the South Tower first floor lobby when the tower collapsed.  Welles Remy Crowther’s efforts are known to have saved the only 18 survivors located higher than the crash sites from both fallen Towers at the World Trade Center, at the ultimate loss of that of his own.

One month before 9/11, Welles Crowther told his father that he was considering leaving his very lucrative Wall Street job to do something that was bigger than himself.  He was considering applying for the position of firefighter.  His parent’s found his half-completed application for a position with the NYFD as they cleaned out his apartment.  Welles Remy Crowther was posthumously awarded the rank of firefighter.  The NYFD honors Welles on the same memorial as that of fallen NYFD firefighters today.  He volunteered. 

The very courageous first responders who answered the call – NYFD and NYPD, those assisting at the Pentagon and in Shanksville PA, all who took on careers bigger than themselves all volunteered.

Following 9/11, America’s military comprising of less than 1% of our country’s citizens sprang into action on the War on Terror.  Men and women compelled to act following the 9/11 attack on America enlisted in the armed services and put their lives on the line to defend freedom.  Many served in the Middle East.  They too, volunteered.

Mark Bingham & Todd Beamer, Welles Remy Crowther, our first responders, enlistees who signed up to join America’s military following 9/11 all have one thing in common.  They volunteered to put their lives on the line to do something greater than themselves.  They took a stand for Americans and America’s freedom.

Educating the community on the sacrifices borne by those who serve is one of three tenets of the Veterans Memorial & Support Foundation mission.  The AMERICAN CHALLENGE – LESSONS FROM 9/11 event including the introduction of The Man in the Red Bandana are directly supportive of the Veterans Foundation’s mission.

Join us for the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in America.  Learn about the heroic selfless acts of our hometown heroes, the Man in the Red Bandana, our first responders and the military members who responded to the call of duty.  Learn why September 12 may have been one of the best days in America.

Remember  •  Honor  •  Thank

You won’t want to miss it!

Man in the Red Bandana – Welles Remy Crowther

Todd Beamer, Los Gatos Alum

Mark Bingham, Los Gatos Alum