Jacksonville father remembers son killed in 9/11 attacks

Richard Guadagno helped take back the cockpit on Flight 93 and now his father and sister, who both live in Jacksonville, are visiting a new memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jerry Guadagno recently stumbled across an old CD in some boxes packed away at a family member's house.

It was a disc he had forgotten existed.

He opened the plastic case, popped the CD into the stereo system in his living room and pressed play.

Guadagno sat back in his rocking chair, silent for the next five minutes, listening to a beautifully played guitar ballad pour out of the stereo speakers.

"I didn't know Richard was such a good player," he finally said, breaking his silence.

His son, 38-year-old Richard Guadagno, was killed during the terror attacks of 9/11.

Richard was one of the 40 on board United Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

So, Jerry says the timing of finding this recording of his son playing guitar couldn't have been better.

"He was a remarkable man," Jerry said. "I always find myself wondering what he would be doing now."

Richard was a federal wildlife agent with the U.S. Department of the Interior. He was most recently at work as an agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Humboldt Bay, California.

"He was in town for a very quick vacation," Jerry remembered. "We were all celebrating his grandmother's 100th birthday, which was on September 10, 2001."

The next day, Jerry remembers driving his son to Newark Airport for his 8:00 a.m. flight back to San Francisco.

It was Flight 93.

"I'll never forget how beautiful a morning it was," Jerry said. "We did all the usual stuff. I told him, 'Rich, be sure to call us when you get home.'"

Jerry had an hour drive back home that day, he had no idea about the first plane going into the tower until he turned the television on when he got home.

"There was so much chaos on TV," he said. "At first no one really had a grasp of what was happening."

But fear set in after an hour or so of watching the news, he realized his son may be in danger.

"I remember calling out to my wife Bea, she was in the kitchen, and telling her there could be a problem with Richard's flight."

Investigators later determined that passengers on board Flight 93 took back the plane from the hijackers.

The plane was said to be heading for a target in Washington, D.C., perhaps the Capitol building, or even the White House.

It never made it there, crashing in Pennsylvania.

In flight recordings reveal that a group of passengers attacked the terrorists, took back the cockpit and forced the crash.

They say Richard, who was trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Facility in Glynn County, was on the front line taking back the cockpit.

"I believe that when reality set in for him on that plane, Richard knew exactly what to do," Jerry said.

Richard was a Renaissance Man in every sense of the term.

He loved nature, grew a massive garden at his California home.

He was a nature photographer, he stained glass, dabbled in taxidermy and even built bass guitars by hand.

And, as his father is now learning, Richard was a talented guitar player too.

"It's really beautiful," he said listening to the recording. "I knew he could play the piano, but had no idea about this."

Finding this recording turned out to be just another surprise from a son who continues to make his father proud.

"I miss him terribly," Jerry said. "I miss him so much."


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