“Are you ready . . . Okay . . . Let’s roll.”
United Airlines Flight 93, September 11, 2001
Todd Morgan Beamer was an American man aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked and crashed as part of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11.
Todd Beamer was one of 33 passengers on aboard United Flight 93 who attempted to regain control of the aircraft from Al-Qaeda Islamist hijackers. During the struggle, the Boeing 757 crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The passengers and crew of United Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save the White House or the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. – the hijackers’ intended target.
United Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 8:00am, but the Boeing 757 did not depart until 42 minutes later due to runway traffic delays.
Four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03 am, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.
United 93 was climbing to cruising altitude, heading west over New Jersey into Pennsylvania. At 9:25 am, Flight 93 was above eastern Ohio, and its pilot radioed Cleveland controllers to inquire about an alert that had been flashed on his cockpit computer screen to “beware of cockpit intrusion.”
Three minutes later, Cleveland controllers could hear screams over the cockpit’s open microphone. Moments later, Al-Qaeda Islamist hijackers took over the plane’s controls, disengaged the autopilot, and told passengers, “Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board.”
The passengers were herded to the back of the plane. Within six minutes, the plane changed course, heading for Washington, D.C.
Several passengers made phone calls to their loved ones, who told them about the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, and a third plane that crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Todd Beamer tried to place a credit card call through a phone located on the back of a plane seat, but was routed to a customer service representative, who passed him on to GTE airphone supervisor Lisa Jefferson.
With FBI agents listening in on their call, Todd Beamer informed Lisa Jefferson that hijackers had taken control of United 93, and that one passenger had been killed.
He also stated that two of the hijackers had knives, and that one appeared to have a bomb strapped around his waist.
When the hijackers turned the plane sharply south, Beamer exclaimed, “We’re going down! We’re going down!”
The passengers and flight crew decided to act.
According to accounts of cell phone conversations, Beamer, along with Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers.
They were joined by other passengers, including Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaven, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyles.
They discussed their options, and voted, then they stormed the cockpit to take over the plane.
Todd Beamer told Lisa Jefferson that the group was planning to “jump on” the hijackers and fly the plane into the ground before the hijackers’ could dive into another American target. Todd Beamer recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with Lisa Jefferson on the phone. He said, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.”
Lisa Jefferson then heard muffled voices, with Todd Beamer clearly saying, “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” These were Todd Beamer’s last words.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the Boeing 757’s voice data recorder revealed pounding and crashing sounds against the cockpit door, and shouts and screams in English.
“Let’s get them!” a passenger cries. A hijacker shouts, “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”).
The hijacker piloting the plane repeatedly pitched the plane to knock passengers off their feet, but the passengers continued their assault.
At 10:02:17, a male passenger said, “Turn it up!” A second later, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!”
At 10:02:33, as the plane is diving toward earth, the hijacker piloting the plane shouted, “Hey! Hey! Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me.”
At 580 miles per hour, the Boeing 757 of United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board.
The plane was 20 minutes of flying time away from its suspected target, the White House or the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
According to Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush had given the order to shoot the plane down if it continued on its path to Washington.
In an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people on September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush, praised the courage of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, especially naming Todd Beamer as “an exceptional man.”
Todd Beamer’s widow, Lisa Beamer, was present.
On November 8, 2001, President Bush gave a speech at the World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
During his address, President Bush invoked Todd Beamer’s last words, saying, “Some of our greatest moments have been acts of courage for which no one could have been prepared. But we have our marching orders” (to go after Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden).
“My fellow Americans, let’s roll!”
Todd Beamer was 32 years old on September 11, 2001. He is survived by his wife, Lisa (Brosious) Beamer, their sons, David and Andrew (“Drew”), who were three and one at the time of 9/11, and their daughter Morgan Kay, who was born January 9, 2002, four months after Todd Beamer’s death.
The President and First Lady Laura Bush were among those who sent letters to Morgan upon her birth.
The 33 passengers and seven crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 are honored in many places all over the United States, including the National Memorial, at the crash site in Stonycreek Township, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the National 9/11 Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The honor that means most to me is this one – Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, Ohio Army National Guard, adopted the motto “Let’s Roll” to honor Todd Beamer and the other members of United Airlines Flight 93.
Alpha company deployed to northern Afghanistan in 2012.