Members of the California Wing’s South Coast Group 7 will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by carrying U.S. flags aloft in its aircraft this weekend during a search and rescue training exercise at Fullerton Municipal Airport.

The idea to carry the flags in California Wing aircraft on Sept. 11 originated in 2014 with Col. Jon Stokes, then the wing’s commander. The flags are taken aloft “in honor of those lost on that horrific day,” Stokes said.

Stokes, the incident commander for the training exercise, said he sees it as a perfect opportunity to continue the tradition and to acknowledge Civil Air Patrol’s role in flying over Ground Zero the day after the attacks to document and photograph the damage. A New York Wing aircrews photos helped federal and state leaders grasp the scope of the disaster and start planning their rescue and recovery efforts.

The exercise Sept. 11-12 at the Fullerton airport will include multiple planes and ground teams responding to simulated crisis and emergency scenarios, such as missing aircraft and natural disasters.

“It's an honor to have our members fly the flag aloft on Sept. 11,” said Capt. Rommel Anacan, public affairs officer for South Coast Group 7. “And it seems particularly fitting to be doing so during an exercise as we continue to train to perform our missions for America, just as CAP did after 9/11.”

Photos by 1st Lt. Gerald Camp, California Wing