Clovis honors 9/11 heroes, remembers the fallen

Clovis resident and 9/11 first responder Andy Isolano shared his first hand experience of the events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001. DANIEL LEON/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

Law enforcement agencies, first responders, public dignitaries, and members of the community took time out of their Tuesday to take part in a public observance at the California Memorial in Clovis to commemorate those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks 17 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001.

The ceremony also recognized the heroic efforts of first responders like Andy Isolano, a retired Clovis fire prevention officer and 9/11 survivor.

For Isolano, the annual remembrance brings him right back to that day.

“On the morning of 9/11, I had just finished a 24-hour shift and I was in the shower getting ready to go home,” Isolano said during his speech as the event’s guest speaker. “When the first plane hit the tower, the day shift that had just relieved us went in. Those of us that got off that morning, we hopped on a spare engine, we dumped our entire medical locker into the hose bed and we headed into Manhattan. As we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, we heard the mayday calls: ‘Tower 2 is coming down.’ We pulled up, got off the rig and Tower 2 came down. When the smoke cleared, 13 of my close friends and 343 fellow firefighters were gone. Not to mention, the nearly 3,000 civilians we find out later had lost their lives.”

As one of the few 9/11 first responders living in the Central Valley, Isolano appreciates the opportunity to share his story, even if it makes him emotional.

“I understand that as hard as it is for me to [talk about it], it’s also very important so I honor it and appreciate it,” he said.

David McDonald, former Pelco president and the original visionary of the California Memorial, was also on hand to take in the public observance.

Following the 9/11 attacks, McDonald set forth on his vision for the memorial because felt it was the “appropriate thing to do.”

“I think everybody learns a new appreciation for our men and women in uniform everywhere that risk their lives every day protecting the rest of us,” McDonald said of the impact the event.  

Midway through the ceremony, Isolano presented McDonald with a folded American flag to honor him for starting the annual ceremony 17 years ago.

Fresno fire chief shares 9/11 message at Clovis Community College

Fresno Fire Department Chief Kerri Donis stopped by Clovis Community College on the 17th anniversary of 9/11 to share a message with students, faculty and administrators.

As the guest speaker of the college’s Patriot Day event, Donis echoed her support of first responders everywhere and the importance of remembering those that lost their lives on 9/11.

“It’s important that recognize and remember all of the folks that we lost on 9/11,” she said. “Not just our civilians, but those unsung heroes and even our heroes that we know of in the firefighter ranks. We lost 343 of our own firefighters that day. It was a tragedy in and of itself. It’s important that we always remember those that gave their life that day.”

Clovis Unified pays tribute to 9/11 victims with Patriots Day ceremonies

Schools from across the Clovis Unified School District held ceremonies on Sept. 11 to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

The impact was especially felt at both Clovis and Buchanan high schools as each school lost graduates in the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

CUSD spokeswoman Kelly Avants said the ceremonies hold a special significance because “they help students, many of whom had not yet been born in 2001, connect with this momentous event in history.”

A native of Woodlake, Daniel Leon is a recent graduate of Fresno State with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Daniel served as Sports Editor at The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper, prior to joining the Roundup. Got a story idea? Email him at