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Unforgettable United Flight 93

When they got up that morning thirteen years ago the very last thing that the 33 passengers and the seven crew of United Flight 93 expected was to be engaged in a life and death struggle to retake an airliner that was headed to Washington DC as a terrorist missile.    All they expected the day to bring was a hum drum flight from Newark to San Francisco.  Just ordinary people living their lives.  Their occupations included pilot, first officer, flight attendant, an environmental lawyer, the owner of a public relations firm,  university students, a senior vice president of a medical development company, a sales representative for Good Housekeeping magazine, a manager of a US Wildlife animal refuge, an arborist, an account manager for a corporation, an ironworker, retirees, a computer programmer, a computer engineer, a lobbyist for the disabled, a real estate agent,  an executive vice president of a corporation and a free lance medical writer.  They were wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, all with unique histories and lives, with little in common except that they happened to be on board Flight 93 when the world changed.

The plane took off at 8:42 AM Eastern Time.  Four terrorists had boarded amidst the other 33 passengers.  The terrorists began to hijack the plane at 9:28 AM, soon after both the hijacked airliners had struck the Twin Towers in New York City, and just brief minutes before a fourth airliner was hijacked in Washington and slammed into the Pentagon.  At 9:28:17 AM a member of the cockpit crew shouted “Mayday! Mayday!” over the radio, with sounds of violence in the background.  35 seconds later someone in the cockpit shouted over the radio, “Mayday!  Get out of here!  Get out of here!”

By 9:31 AM the terrorists were in control of the cockpit.  They informed the passengers that they were in control of the plane and falsely told them they had a bomb.  Now began the final 30 minutes of Flight 93.

Passengers and crew during these final 30 minutes made 35 airphone calls and two cell phone calls.  They quickly learned of the other hijacked planes that had been flown into the Twin Towers.

Passenger Jeremy Glick managed to reach his wife.  He told her that the passengers voted whether to try to take back the plane and decided that they were going to attempt it.  He retained his sense of humor telling his wife that he still had his butter knife from the meal that had been served on board the plane.  Before he and the other passengers attacked the hijackers he wished her and their daughter a happy life, a clear indication that he did not expect to survive the effort to retake the plane.

Flight Attendant Sandra Bradshaw called her husband and told him that she was boiling water to throw on the hijackers.

Passenger Thomas Burnett, Jr. called his wife and she told him about the other planes that had hit the Twin Towers.  He called her back after their first conversation and told her:  “We’re going to take back the plane.  We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it.”

“What do you want me to do?” Deena, his wife, asked him.

“Pray, Deena,” he said “Just pray.”

He ended the phone call by telling his wife:  “I know we’re all going to die – there’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you honey.”

Burnett was a devout Catholic.  He began attending daily mass in 1998.  When his wife asked him why he was doing this he told her:  ‘I feel like God is calling me to do something, and I don’t know what it is. But I know it’s going to have a great impact on a lot of people.’ He said, ‘The reason I’ve been going to daily Mass is because I feel like if I can be closer to God, then I’ll know what his plan is for me.'”

Passenger Todd Beamer attempted to reach his wife, but was unsuccessful in doing so.  He ended up talking to GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson.  He told her that one of the passengers had been killed by the hijackers, and the pilot and co-pilot were reportedly dead or dying.  He told her that the passengers were going to jump the hijackers and attempt to land the plane before the terrorists could carry out the rest of their plan.  He recited the Our Father with Jefferson before the effort to retake the plane began.  The last audible words that Jefferson could hear from Beamer were:  “Are you guys ready?  Let’s roll.”

The passengers rushed the hijackers at 9:57 AM.  They quickly subdued whichever hijackers were outside of the cockpit and began to break into the cockpit, a fact verified by a call made by Flight Attendant Cee Cee Lyles to her husband.  The terrorists in the cockpit began to rock the plane side to side in order to throw the attacking passengers off balance.  As the passengers broke into the cockpit the terrorists crashed the plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  The heroic passengers and crew of Flight 93 could not save their own lives, but they made certain that the terrorists with them would murder no one else that day.  As long as America lives, their memory will never be forgotten.

Crew of Flight 93

Plane Captain Jason Dahl

First Officer Leroy Homer

Flight Attendant Lorraine Bay

Flight Attendant Sandra Bradshaw

Flight Attendant Wanda Green

Flight Attendant CeeCee Lyles

Flight Attendat Deborah Welsh

Passengers of Flight 93

Christian Adams

Todd Beamer

Alan Beaven

Mark Bingham

Deora Bodley

Marion Britton

Thomas E. Burnett Jr

William Cashman

Georgine Corrigan

Patricia Cushing

Joseph Deluca

Patrick Driscoll

Edward Felt

Jane Folger

Colleen Fraser

Andrew Garcia

Jeremy Glick

Lauren Grandcolas

Donald F. Green

Linda Gronlund

Richard Guadagno

Toshiya Kuge

Hilda Marcin

Waleska Martinez

Nicole Miller

Louis J. Nacke II

Donald Peterson

Jean Peterson

Mark Rothenberg

Christine Snyder

John Talignani

Honor Wainio

Kristin White

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

12 Comments

  1. God be with them.
    In 2010 on our way to D.C. with 22 WWII vets and spouses, my wife and I said yes to our bus driver who suggested we stop by the Flight 93 memorial. All of us were deeply moved
    as we walked around the memorial.
    So many offerings of prayers and personal memorabilia left from folks who also were deeply moved.
    What heroic men and women, the thirty three on ninety three.

  2. I hope these passengers and crew are all in Heaven. What I would hope for the terrorists I will not say but can be surmised.

  3. Thank you, Donald for their names. Todd Beamer came from Cranbury, N.J., a quaint very old village between New Brunswick and Princeton. I am very proud to have lived so close to him.
    .
    Not one of the terrorists have returned and verified that they got their 72 virgins in heaven. So, it must be assumed that they have not got their 72 virgins.

  4. May they Rest in Peace. And may we remember these brave souls as well has all who died that horrible day. We have been near the site of the memorial while driving on the PA turnpike, but have yet to stop and visit. This is a good reminder that we should do so.

  5. My thoughts about the bravery and love of the crew and passengers runs along these lines: That brave action by those passengers facing their deaths and determined to do their best to stop the evil is such a Christian thing to do. Christians are helpers and hopers. It is part of what it means to be a Christian. We take responsibility. We are our brothers keepers. “Let’s roll!” resounds with us.
    Maybe part of my frustration with the silence from regular Muslims is that it would be so foreign to us Christians to keep quiet- we can’t understand how they can do that. But I don’t think the Muslims who don’t think deeply about what “the prayer really says” are ones who are going to try to make a difference. They may not really deeply buy into their own religion.

    We sometimes read or see movies about people who die and whose souls leave their bodies- when they could observe what was happening to their bodies and even hover above the scene of their death.. these brave souls left their bodies in Pennsylvania with their eyes open to Glory…the Christians believers to be validated and the Muslim to meet the Truth of Jesus, Son of God; to their horror to finally realize they had believed a lie.
    I am still horrified to think that we didn’t “roll” to rescue James Foley or Ambassador Stevens. If those leaders of the passengers on 93 were the leaders of this government today, we would probably be in a better situation. May they pray for us.

  6. The Flight 93 terrorists did a 180 degree turn somewhere around Cleveland and headed straight for Washington, DC, putting themselves on a path over the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant and the city of Pittsburgh. I remember the day well. The Internet was on meltdown and we were told to get out of town. I remember feeling that day a sense of guilt – I was a 38 year old single man. Wives lost their husbands. Children lost their fathers. Why did I live and they die? Later, I was angry. I still am.

    Shanksville is in Somerset County, about 70-80 miles southeast from Pittsburgh. My wife and I visited there in 2004, long before the memorial was built. The crash site was still considered a crime scene. Nobody without law enforcement credentials could get near it.

    As a result of 9/11, the Federal Government restarted the Air Marshal program. My best friend left the US Capitol Police and joined the program. He was sent back to Pittsburgh after the training program ended – with no time or money to move from his Northern Virginia home.

    The Government is virtually shutting down the Air Marshal program. Pittsburgh is one of the offices set to close. Thank you, Obumbler and Congress.

  7. Regarding the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2 are both Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactors with containments impervious to aircraft crashes. Kindly read the following report from the Electric Power Research Institute at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s web site:
    .
    http://www.nei.org/corporatesite/media/filefolder/EPRI_Nuclear_Plant_Structural_Study_2002.pdf
    .
    Of far more concern would be an aircraft crash into the petrochemical facilities off I-95 in New Jersey near NY City. They have NO containments, and what they spew out never ever decays away.
    .
    By the way, kindly also read chapter 6, Containment Systems, in the Westinghouse PWR Manual.
    .
    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~doster/NE405/Manuals/PWR_Manual.pdf
    .
    I used to teach Westinghouse PWR and GE BWR Systems Training. An aircraft hitting one of these will make a mess and kill the terrorists. But as the EPRI report points out, little else except liberal news media hysteria will result.

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