Unforgettable Flight 93

Sunday, September 11, AD 2016

 

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.'”

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5 Responses to Unforgettable Flight 93

  • 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.

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

  • @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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Unforgettable Flight 93

Friday, September 11, AD 2015

When they got up that morning fourteen 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.'”

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6 Responses to Unforgettable Flight 93

  • God bless those brave souls. We were at work, wondered if somehow the passengers had stopped the plane and said God bless them if they did. Your account above is stunning – the beauty of bravery and fidelity and faith all at once revealed.

  • May God Bless these brave ones and their families. And may we never forget the horror of that day.

  • For the sermon or homily on the Sept. 6th Gospel from Mark, when Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee into Decapolis and healed the deaf man, the subject was listening to our Lord, with Thomas E. Burnett Jr. as an example of listening. He described the experience of Mr. Burnett, who had ‘premonitions’ that there was something to be done. Must be that his daily worship focused him and gave him the courage to try to save some at the other end of the crash, rather that let fear overtake him.

  • Flight 93 crashed close to home. Shanksville is in Somerset County, less than 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Turnpike makes its way both through Somerset County and the city of Somerset. As the crow flies, it is not far from Washington, DC (driving is another matter), and a 757 can travel that distance in 30 minutes or less.

    The region between the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh and Hagerstown, Maryland is entirely rural. There are hills, farms, open spaces and small towns. I am vary familiar with the area, having driven I-70, I-68 and the Turnpike (I-76) between DC/Baltimore and Pittsburgh more times than I can count. Once east of Hagerstown, the Washington suburban sprawl (I hate that term, as it is a loaded leftist insult at suburban growth) kicks in. Flight 93 crashed in a field. Had the heroes acted later, Flight 93 would have crashed in a more densely populated suburban area and more innocent lives would have been lost. Had they acted sooner, Flight 93 may have crashed over Cleveland, Youngstown or Pittsburgh.

    At a Pittsburgh Steelers message board I used to be a member of, I remember one man who felt sad that his birtthday was on September 11, not out of self pity, but he felt that having a good time at all was a dishonor to the dead of September 11.

    I told him that the heroes of Flight 93 were the first to fight Al Qaeda. The mission they gave themselves was to stop the terrorists from smashing the plane into the White House or the U.S. Capitol or wherever they had in mind. They succeeded in their mission (unlike the United States Government, which refused to enforce immigration law and allowed those nitwits into this country and did not see to it that they were made to leave when they were supposed to go). I said not to feel sad at their deaths, as we all will die – be grateful that such brave people lived and gave their all for people they never knew. I also told him about the Battle of Vienna – he never knew about it – and it changed his outlook.

  • I know of a young woman (cousin of a former co-worker) who drove her best friend to Newark airport and put her aboard that flight. Not only did she lose her friend, but her uncle died in the World Trade Center.

Unforgettable United Flight 93

Thursday, September 11, AD 2014

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.'”

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12 Responses to Unforgettable United Flight 93

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Oh, but Mary De Voe, I pray that these terrorist may have been welcomed by those 72 virgins:
    .
    http://www.jumbojoke.com/72_virgins_awaiting_martyrs_in_heaven.html

  • 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.

  • Paul W Primavera.

    Your 72 Virgins are the best!
    I’ll be sharing this with others.
    Thank you.

  • Pingback: 9/11, Christianity, and Islam - BigPulpit.com
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • If Obama is shutting down the Air Marshal programs, then, flight attendants ought to be trained in military tactics.

Unforgettable Flight 93

Wednesday, September 11, AD 2013

When they got up that morning twelve 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.

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4 Responses to Unforgettable Flight 93

Unforgettable Flight 93

Tuesday, September 11, AD 2012

When they got up that morning eleven 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!”

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10 Responses to Unforgettable Flight 93

  • I rarely cry during movies, but I balled through much of Flight 93. I was interning on Capitol Hill on 9/11, and it is quite possible I’m alive only because of the actions of these heroes. God grant them eternal rest.

  • When I think of 9-11 Paul my main emotions are still what they were on that terrible day: rage and sorrow. Like most Americans I suspect, who were alive at the time, that day will remain a raw wound for me for the remainder of my days.

  • Rage and sorrow: that sums up my feelings, then and now as well.

    Another eerie aspect is that today is almost an exact replica of that day. It was a Tuesday, and the weather was absolutely perfect – both here and in New York. I have to admit that there’s a small part of me that hates trudging into the city on this anniversary, though that may just be a bit of paranoia.

  • The terrorists got 40 of their promised virgins that day on flight 93, that day, 9/11. The virgins’ names are Freedom, Liberty, Truth and JUSTICE. when I stop weeping, when I stop crying, when I stop praying. God bless America, the United States, all 57 of them, the American flag hanging on my porch, our men in uniform. Freedom, Liberty, Truth and Justice. Liberty Walking, Freedom crying, Truth praying, Justice dying

  • “today is almost an exact replica of that day. It was a Tuesday and the weather was absolutely perfect”

    Same here in Central Illinois; the only difference being that when I got home from work there WERE multiple jet trails in the sky, instead of just one (from Air Force One). However, I just found out there is currently a huge smoke plume visible on the National Weather Service radar in Chicago — from a huge brush fire in La Salle County, Illinois, not far from where I grew up. The brush fire may have started from a cigarette thrown out a car window, so, be careful out there campers!

  • Re previous comment: thank goodness the smoke over my hometown is just from a brush fire and not from a downed plane as it was over Shanksville, Pa., that awful day. Flight 93 could have happened anywhere. God bless all the heroes of that day.

  • My countymen were with you, one on Flight 93, and others in the twin towers.
    We also feel your grief and your pain still, now years gone by, though we are far removed.
    These events are still very raw for those who recognise these attacks as an attack on our cultural and religious survival.

  • Thank you Don! In times of peril we recognize our true friends.

Unforgettable Flight 93

Sunday, September 11, AD 2011

When they got up that morning ten 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.

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25 Responses to Unforgettable Flight 93

  • Good morning,

    I have been to Shanksville once, back in 2002. It is about 75 miles from where I live. The crash site was fenced off and there were impromptu memorials, a sheet of plywood erected with photos and many flags.

    A few years ago, I used to post at an unofficial Pittsburgh Steelers message board. It had a large section for discussing other events and affairs. I remember one board member who was feeling depressed because his birthday is 9/11, and he felt it inappropriate to celebrate anything, let alone his birthday, on 9/11. As an aside, I left that message board because of the increasingly crude behavior of far too many of its members.

    I pointed out to him that I thought we should consider the members and crew of Flight 93 as heroes. They had the ability to figure out what was going on and what their fate was – and the fate of other innocent people – if they did not stop the terrorists.

    They did stop the terrorists. These people are heroes to me.

    Mr.. McClarey, it would be interesting if you would post a piece asking how our parish pastors reflected on September 11 during Mass – if they did at all.

    Our parish priest is a retired Navy chaplain. He is a most pleasant fellow, who usually doesn’t follow the rubrics to the letter and interjects a few of his own words into the Mass. I pray for him. Our priest talked about how shaken he was and he wondered how anyone could do such a thing. He stressed the importance of forgiveness, as evidenced in the Gospel passage for Mass (St. Matthew 16:18, I think without checking it).

    I preferred Fr. Corapi’s interpretation of 9/11. It was a wakeup call.

    For a short time, we answered the wakeup call in this country. Now it has been forgotten.

    The secular media and its atheist friends took out their fury on religion less than a year later with the abuse scandal that was epicentered in Boston. They took it all out on the Catholic Church for two reasons. One reason is that the Catholic Church, through the actions and inactions of its clergy and members, often gives others the club to beat it over the head with. The other reason is that Catholics don’t call for jihad and threaten those who insult her.

    I remember that morning of 9/11 well. I was at work. We heard that a plane crashed into the WTC and thought it was someone flying a Cessna. When we heard of the second crash, I made a very uncharitable remark about Muslims and said to my supervisor that it was they who were behind this. We were told to get out of the office and go home shortly after.

    Others cried. I burned with anger and when I think about it, I still do. Does anyone remember the ABC made for TV movie about the events leading up to 9/11? The bombings of the US Embassies in Africa? The USS Cole? Al Qaeda was active for a long time before 9/11.

    This week, there are several important feast days on the Latin Catholic calendar. Tuesday, September 13, is the Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church. Wednesday, September 14 is the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross. Thursday, September 15 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows. All of these were mentioned in the parish bulletin.

    September 12 is the Feast Day of the Most Holy Name of May, in honor of King John Sobieski’s entrusting of himself and his army in battle against the Ottoman Turks who were trying to conquer Vienna. Sobieski and his Polish Hussar cavalry smashed the Ottomans and sent them into retreat. Sobieski said, “Veniums, vidimus, Deus vincit.”
    In a letter to his wife, Sobieski wrote, “Thanks be to Heaven, now the Half-Moon Triumphs no longer o’re the Cross, And ’twas thrown down from St. Stephen’s Steeple in Vienna (whom it had o’retopt so long) immediately on the Defeat: Neither have the Turks any occasion to upbraid us with their Blasphemous Mahometan Proverb. Ye Christians where is Your God?”

    September 12 has no feast day mentioned on it in our bulletin. The feast day was removed in 1969, but Pope John Paul II put it back in 2002.

    Sorry for rambling.

  • Here’s another story about that day: Heather “Lucky” Penny. She was the pilot who was going to have to take out the flight – in a suicide mission – had the passengers not done it.

    The movie “United 93” is the one of the most spectacular movies I have ever seen, and I’ve never cried as much through a movie as I have that one.

  • “Mr.. McClarey, it would be interesting if you would post a piece asking how our parish pastors reflected on September 11 during Mass – if they did at all.

    Our parish priest is a retired Navy chaplain. He is a most pleasant fellow, who usually doesn’t follow the rubrics to the letter and interjects a few of his own words into the Mass. I pray for him. Our priest talked about how shaken he was and he wondered how anyone could do such a thing. He stressed the importance of forgiveness, as evidenced in the Gospel passage for Mass (St. Matthew 16:18, I think without checking it).”

    My parish priest sounded a similar theme but he also noted that these people had to be stopped which I think gets it about right. In our age we emphasize God’s mercy rather than His justice, and we tend to forget that He has both attributes to the full.

  • I wish I could find this somewhere, but sometime before 9/11, I had read an essay by some Catholic writer about how the Christian idea of a “good death” means NOT necessarily a death free of suffering or fear, but one transformed from a merely passive thing that happens TO you, into a sacrificial action.

    What took place on Flight 93 is, in my mind, a quintessential example of that… instead of simply sitting back and being victims, those heroic passengers took ACTION that saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others.

    I believe they also set an example that others have followed in the intervening years. You may recall that the “shoe bomber” and the “underwear bomber” were both successfully subdued by other passengers aboard those flights. Untold hundreds or thousands of other lives have been saved as a result.

  • Excellent points Elaine! I have long thought that the best security development since 9/11 is the example of Flight 93 and which has been followed by passengers and crews since then.

  • Interestingly, the celebration of the Holy Name of Mary in the Ambrosian Rite is on 9/11

  • Another interesting fact is that in 1684, to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Vienna the year before, Pope Innocent XI inserted the feast of the Holy Name of Mary in the General Roman Calendar, assigning to it the SUNDAY within the octave of the Nativity of Mary (8-15 September). There are no coincidences. And today’s Mass readings center around forgiveness.

  • “Mr.. McClarey, it would be interesting if you would post a piece asking how our parish pastors reflected on September 11 during Mass – if they did at all.”

    One of our deacons gave the homily. Talked about forgiveness. Mentioned how we could not be pro-life if we were pro-death penalty. Said we needed to abolish the death penalty.

  • Is he always a jerk Phillip, or does he merely reserve it for his Deacon duties?

  • And speaking of jerks, one can always count on Paul Krugman to be very big one indeed:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/the-years-of-shame/?pagemode=print

  • The homily I heard (by a parish pastor) talked about how forgiveness seems impossible when faced with such atrocities, and how it IS impossible to reconcile with the need for some kind of justice or for someone to “pay the price” — until we realize that Christ Himself already paid that price. No polemics against military action, self defense or the death penalty but mostly an acknowledgement that Christ’s words are indeed very difficult to follow.

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  • Speaking of John Sobieski, check out this link to see a picture of him thanking God for his victory in the 9/11/1683 battle of Vienna, as portrayed in the windows of Springfield’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (scroll down about 2/3 of the way to see it):

    http://www.romeofthewest.com/2007/09/photos-of-cathedral-of-immaculate.html

  • “Brave and Valiant Gentlemen of Poland, it is not here
    only requisite to make good the Glory which your
    Ancestors Valor have aquir’d, in making us consider’d
    as the Bulwark of Christianity against the Arms of the
    Ottomans: It is not only sufficient at this present to defend
    your Country, which the loss of Vienna would expose by a
    necessary consequence to the Invasion of those Infidels, with
    whom we are to fight. Here it is necessary to defend the
    Cause of God, and to preserve the Western Empire, which
    hath done us the Honor to have recourse to our Alliance;
    an Honor which our Ancestors dust never aspire unto, and
    was reserved for your Valor. Entertain therefore no other
    thoughts at present, but either to Conquer, or Nobly to end
    your lives in this Just Cause, to which the Glory of our common
    Master is annexed: Think now that you are to Fight in the fight
    of so many Brave Commanders who are engaged in the same
    Cause and Peril; reflect also that your King Fights at the Head
    of you, whereby to have a share both in your Glory and Danger;
    and withal be confident that the God of Battles whose Cause we
    defend will undoubtedly Fight for us.”

    John Sobieski’s speech to his men before the battle of Vienna. After the battle he sent one of the captured green flags of the Sultan to the Pope with this message:

    “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit.”

    I came, I saw, God conquered.

  • A very modern problem: mercy and justice– the shortest solution I know is that you can’t give mercy to someone who won’t take it. All you can do is the right thing, and hope they eventually accept it. Kinda what Jesus is doing since He died for us, no?

  • Another facet to Flight 93 is that it involved “ordinary” people who were not (as far as I know) active duty or reserve military, police, firefighters or otherwise trained to be first responders.

    Of course the heroism of the professionals as displayed at the WTC and Pentagon is and should be commemorated every Sept. 11. Still, in some ways I am more impressed with the fact that a random, thrown-together group of about 3 dozen civilians who did not know one another, suddenly confronted with an unprecedented horror and with little time to spare, literally “winged it” and may very well have stopped the attacks from turning into a de facto coup d’etat (assuming that the intended target was either the Capitol or the White House).

  • Quite right Elaine. Hard enough for a group of unarmed specially trained soldiers or Marines to take down a group of terrorists who claim (falsely) that they have a bomb. A group of random civilians, who have just met each other under the worst circumstances imaginable, to take on such terrorists takes heroism and daring of a high order indeed.

    The cops and firefighters who went into the Twin Towers to save lives, knowing that it was entirely possible that it could, as it did, collapse at any moment, is an example of the type of “professional courage” that indicates why certain occupations, where risking one’s life is a part of the job, are held high in public esteem, while others, why did the word “lawyer” just flash through my mind ?, are not. The priests who ran to give the Last Rites to the dying at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, along with the Protestant clergy and Jewish rabbis, also distinguished themselves that dark day.

  • I agree with Paul Z about the film “United 93.” I think it is the best movie that has been made or ever will be made about 9/11.

    When I feel pessimistic about the future of our nation and our pathetic ruling elites, I try to remember the heroism shown by the ordinary folks on United 93 and think to myself that if America is still producing citizens like Todd Beamer and co, we are not quite finished yet.

  • I read an article on a blog some years ago about one of the guys on Flight 93. He had had dream – or premonition – that he was to be involved in some defining type event, which possibly involved the US president. He was a devout Catholic, and had a devotion to Our Lady – I think Our Lady of the Rosary (of Victories – Battle of Vienna, 9/11/1683)

    When he found himself in this predicament, he realised that this may be the event. He rang his wife and told her what he and the others had to do. The rest is history.

  • Don, I think the man you are referring to was Thomas E. Burnett Jr. I seem to recall several stories about him in the Catholic press after 9/11, and I believe he attended daily Mass, though this is the first I have ever heard about his premonition.

  • About Mr. Burnett:

    “Mr. Burnett phoned his wife Deena four times. In the first call he told her about the situation on the plane and asked her to call authorities. The second time he phoned, he told her that he believed their captors were going to fly the plane into the ground. “The next time he called,” Mrs. Burnett said, “I could tell they were formulating a plan.” In the last call, he reportedly said, “I know we’re going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it.””

    http://www.unitedheroes.com/Thomas-Burnett.html

  • The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as Our Lady of Victory (7 Oct.) was established to commemorate the naval battle of Lepanto, 1571, when a combined Christian fleet routed the Turks (and anyone who doesn’t know Chesterton’s bravura poem should look it up without delay). The Christian commander, Don John of Austria, an illegitimate son of the emperor Charles V, was born in Regensburg, that beautiful city on the Danube with which the present Holy Father has such close links.

    Ten years ago the traditional festivities of the Last Night of the Proms were replaced by an evening of solemn music, including Barber’s moving Adagio, and at the Changing of the Guard ceremony the band of the Grenadier Guards played the Star Spangled Banner in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Many of the spectators wept. No mention of the anniversary at Mass yesterday morning; instead we were reminded it was ‘racial justice Sunday’ and invited to pray for ‘all victims of discrimination’. I prayed for the Christians routinely persecuted in Moslem countries and for the innocent victims of 9/11.

  • According to his wife, Thomas Burnett did have premonitions:

    “In 1998, when Deena learned that Tom was going to daily Mass she said “I was a little bit surprised, but I didn’t say anything,” she said. “He said, ‘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.'””

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/5/2/180833.shtml

  • Hi John Nolan.

    Yes – I got mixed up between Lepanto and the Battle of Vienna.
    Quite familiar with Chesterton’s poem – In fact Don McC. posted on it a little while back.

    Good to see I’m not the only ‘demmed furriner’ commenting here on an American blog 😉

    Thanks Don, for the confirmation – I thought I had it right.

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