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Unforgettable Flight 93

 

When they got up that morning fifteen 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.

5 Comments

  1. American heroes, one and all, who stopped a Muslim terrorist attack….to paraphrase General Patton, weep not that they died, but be grateful that such brave souls lived.

    I was at the Flight 93 site in 2002. Back then there was only a makeshift memorial, if you could call it that, but it was entirely ad hoc. Still, it conveyed the gratitude towards the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

    The crash site was a crime/accident site for years, fenced off and closed to the public. I got no closer than a few football fields away.

    Unlike the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, the crash site of Flight 93 is in a field, in a typically rural part of Somerset County. There are no large structures nearby. By the grace of God, Flight 93 was stopped only minutes away (in terms of flying speed) from Hagerstown, Frederick, the I-270 corridor and DC….and united Western Pennsylvania with New York City and the Pentagon.

  2. Thank you for these most beautifu tributes for such a horrible anniversary, and helping me pray for these souls and their families.

  3. @PF

    Our WWII Veterans and their loved ones from Northern Michigan stopped by the site on our way to DC. As you said, it was just a make shift memorial. The articles left behind by visitors was moving as was the words written to these brave souls.
    Rosaries, hats, plaques, markers and letters fastened to the chain linked fence.
    Their bravery will not be forgotten.

    God be with them.

  4. I took the family to the Flight 93 Memorial yesterday. It’s about a hundred miles away. Quite an experience. The Somerset County countryside is beautiful, as are the wildflowers in the fields around the Memorial. I saw crucifixes laid next to the names of a few of the heroes, which are all inscribed on a long wall near the crash site…upon which lies a sandstone boulder.
    Today is September 12, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, due to the victory of the Holy League over the Ottomans at Vienna in 1683. A Polish flag will be on my desk today.

  5. Thanks for the reminder PF… Feast of the most Holy name of Mary. Sin and death do not get the final word. Our Queen and Mother most Holy is still applying her weight on the head of the serpent. Polish flag and St Kolbe’s two crowns….red and white. A great country and a great Saint. Hat’s off to the revival of the Holy League thanks to Cardinal Burke.

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