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Union City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Update and Correction

Union City, Tennessee 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Update

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from The Union City Fire Department

A recent press release promoting the upcoming Union City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, to be held at Discovery Park of America on September 10, 2022, resulted in several reports that August Johansen, one of the scheduled speakers, materially misrepresented his curriculum vitae. A common theme in those reports was that his was a case of stolen valor, which is normally defined as a false claim about military service, but in this case concerned false claims about involvement with the events of 9/11. The allegations were substantiated and event organizers have removed him from the program.

Union City Fire Chief Karl Ullrich stated, “We are saddened and embarrassed by this development which detracts from what is a heartfelt tribute to the firefighters lost in the attack on the World Trade Center, and a fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a worthy cause.” He added that, “We’re in a part of the country known for corn fields and not skyscrapers. We are able to host a special 9/11 memorial at Discovery Park of America, a world-class museum and heritage park. It’s a unique opportunity for a town as small as ours, and we will continue with our plans to remember and honor our big-city brothers in New York.”

Climbers at the Union City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb ascend the eleven-story tower at Discovery Park of America ten times in full gear to simulate the effort required of FDNY firefighters in the World Trade Center towers. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation explains that each climber’s tribute not only remembers the sacrifice of an FDNY brother, but symbolically completes their heroic journey to save others.
The Union City Stair Climb, now in its fourth year, is a local fundraiser to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and is sanctioned by that organization.


The following is what was originally printed in this weeks’ issue of the Dresden Enterprise, we deeply apologize for any confusion regarding this story and the details surround this event. 


9/11 New York City Firefighter Joins Annual Stair Climb Event

Courtesy of DPA

Local Union City firefighters will once again be partnering with Discovery Park of America and the City of Union City to host the annual stair climb on Sat., Sept. 10, 2022, as a way to pay tribute to those who were lost in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Special guest August Johansen, a New York City firefighter who served during 9/11, will be present at this year’s event to share his story.

Johansen was in the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001 serving as one of the HazMat unit commanders during the evacuation, which later turned into a search and rescue effort. He was later promoted to Battalion Chief of the Sixth Division in Bronx where he served for six years until becoming Chief of Division Four in Manhattan. After 25 years, August retired from his duties in 2020.

The tower stair climb, held in conjunction with The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, is open to any rescue worker who wishes to participate in climbing the Discovery Park Tower staircase 10 times in full gear, the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. 

The terrorist attacks killed 2,184 civilians, 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers and 10 EMS workers. Many others have died from medical complications in the years since.

“Many of us who witnessed the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks also remember the way we came together as a nation afterward,” said Johansen. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to honor my fallen brothers and help raise critical funds for the NFFF.”

The mission of the NFFF is to honor and remember America’s fallen fire heroes, to provide resources to assist their families in rebuilding their lives, and work within the Fire Service Community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries.

Those who have purchased a ticket to Discovery Park that day are welcome to watch and encourage the firefighters as they climb the stairs. Once the last firefighter has completed the climb, there will be a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives.

Climbers will be given an identification tag and photo of a first responder that lost their life on 9/11 as they climb the steps, and the stairwell will be filled with posters and words of encouragement from Union City and Obion County students.

The immediate families of participating firefighters will enjoy free admission to Discovery Park. Firefighters and will receive a voucher for a meal at one of the museum and park’s restaurants.

The opening ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and will feature the Presentation of the Colors, National Anthem and an opening prayer. The climb will begin at 10 a.m. Registration is now open. 

For more information, to register, to sponsor a rescue worker or team or to participate as a sponsor, visit the event’s landing page or contact Lt. Rick Stacks at or call (731) 885-2232.

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